ELLSWORTH – More than 75 supporters were eager to hear Eliot Cutler speak during a stop on his bus tour at the Maine Grind coffee shop.

But Cutler was in the bathroom.

It was the only place quiet enough for the candidate to call in to a Portland news conference where he was being endorsed by former Gov. Angus King. Finally, after thanking King, he emerged.

“I bring you greetings from Angus King,” Cutler told the cheering crowd.

After starting a four-day cross-state tour in the farming and logging communities of Maine’s northern interior Friday, Cutler’s bus swung through Maine’s Down East fishing communities Saturday.

The campaign, once again, resumed before dawn, this time at a 5 a.m. hunters’ breakfast in Old Town. Cutler then hunted for votes and rallied supporters at stops in Eastport, Machias, Ellsworth and Belfast before heading to Portland for the final gubernatorial debate ahead of Tuesday’s election.

Cutler’s “Jobs and Opportunity Tour” picks up today with stops in Rockland, Hallowell, Auburn and Brunswick. On Monday, the tour winds through York County and culminates with a 5 p.m. election-eve rally in Portland’s Monument Square.

Cutler’s daughter, Abby, boarded the bus Saturday, joining her mother, Dr. Melanie Stewart Cutler, and her uncle, Josh Cutler, for the final three days of the campaign.

In Eastport, appreciative supporters filled the Waco Diner to welcome Cutler.

“He said he’d be back and he came back,” said Shannon Emery, chair of the school board in the remote fishing community.

Emery praised Cutler for once even sitting through a school board meeting to learn about the local impacts of state budget cuts.

“It was this spring, before he was ‘popular,’ ” Emery said, making air quotes with her fingers.

Robert Peacock, an Eastport businessman, praised Cutler for his understanding of the fishing industry and for not getting drawn into the negative campaigning of the political parties.

Cutler said he hears that a lot.

“There are several reasons why I think I’m going to win, and that (negative campaigning) is a big one,” Cutler told his Eastport supporters.

In Machias, Ken Clark was having lunch with his family at Helen’s restaurant when Cutler and his wife walked up to introduce themselves.

“I’ve supported you right from the beginning. I’m glad you moved up,” Clark said, referring to recent polls showing Cutler’s support rising.

The crowds greeting him grew larger as Cutler’s bus traveled down the coast.

In Ellsworth, supporters waved “Eliot Cutler” signs as the bus pulled up to the coffee shop where he was to speak.

While Cutler retreated to a quiet restroom to phone into the Portland news conference with King, Maine Sen. Dennis Damon, D-Trenton, told the audience that he stood up against his party to support Cutler.

“The future of the state of Maine for the next four years and beyond is much too important to me to be left to partisan politics,” Damon said.

Damon also joked that he’d sacrificed some sleep by riding on the campaign bus with Cutler. “The schedule, in only the first two days, is wearing me out,” Damon said.

Cutler, meanwhile, sounded energized.

“I have never felt a surge like the one that’s lifting us right now,” he said.

At every stop, Cutler asked supporters to help get out the vote and said he wants to bring the state together and turn it around.

“There’s not two Maines or four Maines. There’s one community,” Cutler told supporters in Ellsworth. “We’re all Mainers who want this place to work, who love the state of Maine. We’re going to make it happen.”

 

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at: [email protected]