Speaking behind closed doors this week at a Bangor cocktail reception hosted by a conservative foundation, U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin said he deliberately avoids talking to the media because he doesn’t want to provide “them and everyone else the ammunition they need and we lose this seat.”
A secret recording obtained by the Maine People’s Alliance, which published its contents and released part of the tape, captured the two-term 2nd District Republican with his guard down, something that rarely happens in public.
In sections of the recording released by the left-wing group, Poliquin also called it “shameful” that the U.S. Senate’s refused to move ahead with GOP plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Maine’s Republican senator, Susan Collins, was one of three senators who squelched the bill.
Poliquin’s chief consultant, Brent Littlefield, declined to respond to the revelation.
“I don’t comment on dark money, special interest group-funded hyperbole,” Littlefield said Friday.
At the Tarratine Club in Bangor on Tuesday, Poliquin told Maine Heritage Policy Center supporters in detail about why he rarely engages with the press.
Poliquin said that “it would be stupid for me to engage the national media” so he simply tries not to do it.
“As soon as you go down that path, you are in the swamp,” Poliquin said. “You are exactly where they want you to be. Do not take the bait. I drove the press crazy for nine months because I stayed on message focusing on what I was going to do to help my state and my district and it worked.”
The congressman, who is seeking re-election, said that “anywhere you go in D.C., when you’re coming out of my office building or coming out of a tunnel or going across the street trying to not get mowed down,” reporters are there “dying to get you on record to say whatever.”
“We have to be really careful,” Poliquin said.
He told the crowd that the GOP needs his seat in the 435-member House because there are only “two dozen swing districts in the country,” including his.
They “can go either way” in elections, Poliquin said. “We win ‘em, we’re in the majority, we can advance agenda.”
But lose them, he said, and Democrats such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont will “run the show” instead.
“That’s just the reality of the numbers, OK? So we’ve got to be incredibly careful,” Poliquin said.
There are five Democrats already vying for the chance to take on Poliquin in next year’s election, including state Rep. Jared Golden of Lewiston.