AUBURN – Months ago, Jay Barrett became a friend on Eliot Cutler’s Facebook page.

Cutler’s daughter, Abby, posted a message welcoming him as the 3,000th member of the online network of Cutler supporters.

On Sunday, Barrett brought his family to a Cutler-for-governor rally in Auburn. Abby Cutler recognized him from his Facebook photo and welcomed him again, this time face to face.

“It happens a lot,” said Annie Tselikis, a Cutler campaign aide.

Facebook has become a powerful tool for building support, coordinating campaign events and getting out information.

But there are still plenty of old-fashioned stump speeches and handshakes, especially two days before Election Day.

Cutler’s cross-state bus tour continued Sunday with stops in Rockland, Hallowell, Auburn and Brunswick. It ends today, with stops all across York County and an election eve rally at 5 p.m. in Portland’s Monument Square.

Cutler’s entire family is now on the bus with him, along with a growing number of close supporters.

Former Gov. Angus King, who endorsed Cutler on Saturday, is expected to join the bus tour this morning.

On Sunday, Gerry Cushman, a fisherman from Port Clyde, welcomed Cutler to a rally in Rockland that attracted a couple dozen supporters in the light rain.

“I think the momentum has changed,” Cushman told the candidate. “The other morning, there were 20 people down there in the fish house. Eighteen were all for you.”

Joanne Smith of Owl’s Head came out to meet Cutler and afterward said she plans to support him, too. The negative ads about him helped convince her, she said.

“For some reason, the fact that he’s been involved with China is a problem for some people,” she said. “I think it’s an asset, to be honest.”

Also, she said, “He has a wonderful handshake. He really connects.”

In Hallowell, Cutler stood on a park bench and spoke to about 50 supporters wearing buttons and waving signs. Then he walked up and down Water Street looking for new supporters.

“I hope you’ll vote for me,” Cutler said as he shook hands with Alicia Leavitt of Randolph. “I already have,” she said.

State Rep. Bruce Bickford, a Republican from Auburn, didn’t promise his vote when he bumped into Cutler while campaigning for his re-election in Auburn. But he did pose with Cutler so one of his supporters could snap a photo.

In Auburn, nearly 100 people came out to greet Cutler’s tour bus, wave signs and meet the candidate.

“He seems pumped by all the energy,” said Marge Kilkelly, a former lawmaker from Lincoln County who traveled with Cutler and attended the rallies. “It seems at every stop the energy from the group gets pushed onto him.”

Cutler drew loud cheers at each stop when he talked about defeating negative politics, bringing the state together and, most of all, winning on Tuesday.

“I never knew what a surge felt like until now. But it’s an uplifting feeling that I’m sure is going to carry us to victory on Tuesday,” he said in Auburn. “We’re going to reject the politics of fear. We’re going to reject the politics of anger. We’re going to reject the politics of deception.”

Listening to Cutler talk in person about turning the state around made Jay Barrett, the Facebook friend, even more certain he’s supporting the right candidate, he said.

“We have three children,” he said. “I want them to get a good education and stay in Maine and get good jobs.”

 

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:

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