PORTLAND — During their last scheduled debate before Tuesday’s election, the candidates for governor attacked one another Saturday night over the attacks they’ve launched against each other previously during the campaign.

The five candidates faced off during a forum at the Irish Heritage Center in Portland, the second of two Great Debates sponsored by MaineToday Media and its partners, Portland TV station WGME (Channel 13) and Portland radio station WGAN (560 AM).

Republican front-runner Paul LePage, Democrat Libby Mitchell and the three independent candidates – Eliot Cutler, Shawn Moody and Kevin Scott – all participated in the debate.

One question to the candidates came from a group of eighth-graders who wanted to know what the candidates thought of all the negative campaigning.

“Well, I don’t think much of it,” said LePage with a laugh. “I guess the good thing is that it’s made me a household name.”

Mitchell addressed Cutler and admonished him for “dismissing my life’s work” by saying she had done little to help Maine in her years as a legislator.

“Eliot, you called me the status quo though I’ve fought for change my whole life. You called Paul and I extremists,” said Mitchell.

“I said you are both in the extreme wings of your party,” said Cutler, who later criticized LePage for running ads saying Cutler has worked as a lobbyist in China.

“That’s a lie,” said Cutler. When later pressed to explain his work in China, Cutler said that as a lawyer he represented Chinese companies and American companies in China, but did not do any lobbying.
After the heated exchanges between the three poll leaders – LePage, Cutler, and Mitchell – independent Shawn Moody made an observation about the bickering.

“If you think that after the election is over the parties are going to kiss and make up and everything will be better, think again,” said Moody, to laughter and applause.

When speaking about education earlier in the debate, Moody told how his mother used to tell him he could either try to grow to be the tallest tree in the forest, or cut the other trees down.

“Well, it’s time to put our chain saws down,” said Moody.

When talking about taxes and spending, Cutler pointed out that while LePage often cites a tax reduction in Waterville as one of his triumphs as the city’s mayor, taxes in other Maine cities have been reduced more.

“Eliot, lawyers and lobbyists have never been known for their math skills, and your analysis of what we did in Waterville is dead wrong,” said LePage.

The one-hour debate was fast-moving, with only one break, and topics ranged from taxes and state revenue, to the environment, business, education and the candidates’ personal experience.
The forum was open to the public and broadcast on radio and television.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: [email protected]