AUGUSTA, Maine — Former President Bill Clinton is coming to Maine in hopes of giving a boost to Democrat Libby Mitchell’s bid for the Blaine House, while Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is paying a visit to raise money and show support for her Republican challenger.
Clinton will headline a rally for Mitchell in South Portland on Sunday. The following day, Barbour is scheduled to attend a private fundraiser for Republican candidate Paul LePage in Portland.
The former president’s visit comes as polls show Mitchell lagging behind LePage in the five-contestant race, which also features three independents, Eliot Cutler, Shawn Moody and Kevin Scott.
Mitchell’s campaign says internal polling shows her to be within striking distance.
“I look forward to sharing the stage with (Clinton) as we talk about the importance of this election and how to get Maine’s economy back on track,” said Mitchell, who has made job creation a central theme of her campaign.
While he was president, Clinton appointed Mitchell to the board of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, a post she held from 1994 to 2000. Mitchell also drew Clinton’s endorsement during this year’s Democratic primary race for governor, in which she prevailed over three rivals.
Clinton’s appearance Sunday evening at Southern Maine Community College is the final stop on a three-state swing through New England on behalf of Democratic candidates.
On Monday, Barbour will attend a fundraiser for LePage at DiMillo’s Floating Restaurant in Portland. Barbour, chairman of the Republican Governors Association and past chairman of the Republican National Committee, is frequently mentioned as a potential Republican contestant for president in 2012.
Organizers of the LePage event were asking for $750 per person or $1,500 per couple to help bankroll LePage’s privately funded campaign. Mitchell is the only Maine gubernatorial candidate who sought to qualify for public campaign funding.
Campaign finance reports covering the mid-July to mid-September period show strong fundraising by LePage, whose campaign collected nearly $400,000, leaving him with $534,000 in cash on hand. Mitchell, as a Maine Clean Election Act recipient, is eligible for up to $1.2 million in campaign funds.