September 19, 2012

Maine's U.S. Senate candidates debate taxes, health care

By Steve Mistler smistler@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

The first multimedia debate in the race for Maine's open U.S. Senate seat was held Monday, Sept. 17, 2012 at the Franco American Heritage Center in Lewiston. Candidates from left: Angus King, Independent, Charlie Summers, Republican, and Cynthia Dill, Democratic.

John Ewing / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

The first multimedia debate in the race for Maine's open U.S. Senate seat was held at the Franco American Heritage Center in Lewiston on Monday, Sept 17, 2012. Candidates from left: Angus King, Independent, Charlie Summers, Republican, and Cynthia Dill, Democratic.

John Ewing / Staff Photographer

The debate featured some low-key jabs. King challenged Summers' policy knowledge at several points. Summers, in turn, hit King on his fiscal management of state government. Dill tried to cast both candidates as beneficiaries of a political system that's rigged for the wealthy and connected.

Dill and King joined to oppose a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. Summers said the decision preserved corporations' free-speech rights.

Dill disagreed. She said Republicans' endorsement of the Citizens United decision showed that the party is more interested in giving rights "to corporations" than women.

King called the decision one of the worst of his lifetime, but said it's unlikely that there would be political support for a constitutional amendment to reverse it. He said Congress should instead push for more disclosure in political spending.

The candidates also addressed the tenor of the campaign.

King, who has been targeted by over $1.3 million in spending by outside groups, said he has kept his promise to run a positive campaign. King said that isn't the case with Summers and his Republican surrogates.

King pointed to a Republican tracker in the crowd, indicating that the man was paid by Republicans to follow the former governor and take pictures and video of him on the campaign trail.

"I think he wants to get a picture of me slugging a baby," King joked.

Trackers have become common in modern campaigns. King said it is further evidence that politics have become too cynical.

The Summers campaign, via one of several emails designed to counter King's positions, noted that King ran negative ads during his run for governor in 1994.

The three other independent candidates, Steve Woods of Yarmouth, Andrew Ian Dodge of Harpswell, and Danny Dalton of Brunswick, were not invited to the live debate. They were invited to participate in an online forum.

Staff Writer Steve Mistler can be contacted at 791-6345 or at:

smistler@pressherald.com

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