May 14, 2010

Candidates lukewarm to tea party platform

But no GOP contenders for governor reject the statement of party principles outright.

The Associated Press

AUGUSTA —The Most of Maine's Republican gubernatorial candidates are tepid to cool on a party platform pushed through by tea party activists, but none who responded to Associated Press queries rejected the statement of party principles outright.

The platform adopted at last weekend's Maine Republican Convention showed the influence of conservatives and tea party activists.

Among other things, it stresses a need for state sovereignty, 12-year congressional term limits, limiting marriage to one man and one woman, and the sanctity of life, including the unborn.

It seeks the elimination of the Department of Education and the Federal Reserve, and refers to global warming as a "myth."

It also calls for spending cuts and a balanced budget, and freezing stimulus funds. It says that health care "is not a right. It is a service."

GOP candidates, who were asked whether they support the platform, generally chose to point to their own priorities instead.

None accepted a challenge by state Democratic campaign chair Arden Manning to reject the document.

"I support the spirit behind the new platform, though the letter of the document does leave room for improvement," Bill Beardsley wrote in an e-mail.

While he said it "appropriately venerates the constitutions of both Maine and the United States," it "expresses the electorate's increasing frustration with the rapidly growing government footprint in our lives."

Bruce Poliquin said he agrees with some parts of the platform, but finds others "unnecessarily divisive."

"As Republicans, we should articulate our core values in a way that attracts all those who share them," he wrote.

But he said several additions to the platform "fall short of that goal."

State Sen. Peter Mills said the platform reflects the public's anger over public debt and the lack of accountability for tax-supported services.

"I doubt that there is anyone in the Legislature who has trumpeted those same concerns more than I have," Mills said.

He said the platform fails to stick to the issues that concern most mainstream voters, and includes things that Republicans don't support.

Les Otten said he left the convention before the changes were added to the platform.

"I haven't studied the changes," he said in a phone interview, adding that he doesn't know where it may tie into his campaign theme of jobs, no new taxes, health care costs and welfare reform.

Matt Jacobson's campaign manager, Bill Becker, responded to the AP with an e-mail that made no direct reference to the platform.

It said Jacobson's message "is about bringing people together to create a strong Maine economy. He is campaigning on his own experience and message."

Neither Paul LePage, whose campaign has had a presence at tea party events around Maine, nor Steve Abbott responded to e-mail and phone queries.


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