LEWISTON — Democratic congressional hopeful Jared Golden on Thursday accused the Republican incumbent he hopes to unseat of hiding from Maine voters by skipping a Maine Public debate and declining other opportunities to defend his record openly.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a two-term Republican from the 2nd District, appeared at a televised debate this week and plans to attend another on Tuesday.

Golden, who challenged Poliquin to more debates “at any time, in any place,” criticized him specifically for allegedly pulling out of an Oct. 28 debate that Maine Public planned.

But Poliquin’s campaign said weeks ago he intended to participate in two televised debates this month — one earlier this week and one on Tuesday — and never indicated any plans to show up at any others.

Brent Littlefield, a Poliquin campaign consultant, said the congressman has never withdrawn from a debate. He denounced Golden’s claim as “100 percent false.”

“It is exhausting to hear all of the false attacks from liberal Jared Golden and his liberal, extreme, supporters,” Littlefield said, “including their false attacks on Congressman Poliquin’s exhaustive schedule which has him traveling all over Maine to talk with thousands and thousands of Maine people about their concerns.”

Maine Public plans a 2nd District congressional debate at the Gracie Theater in Bangor on Oct. 28. It says the event is part of its “coverage of issues and candidates at the center of this year’s political season including LIVE Congressional, Senate and Gubernatorial debates. ”

Golden said that Poliquin’s refusal to debate more “shows he has no intention of defending his record in Washington.”

“He has declined public forums, debate invites on radio, opportunities to appear before editorial boards, and now, with his withdrawal from the MPBN event, a debate before a live audience of voters,” Golden said.

“That is unacceptable from our representative, but in line with the way Congressman Poliquin has treated Mainers throughout his time in Washington,” the Lewiston Democrat said.

Poliquin’s campaign issued a statement Aug. 30 saying he would appear at two televised debates, including Tuesday’s one on WAGM in Presque Isle, WABI in Bangor and WMTW, channel 8 in Portland.

Brendan Conley, his campaign spokesman, said at the time that Poliquin “must continue his duties in Washington and around Maine as he campaigns.”

“At the same time he feels it is critical Maine people have an opportunity to witness a debate,” Conley said. “So care has been taken based on the invitations received, to ensure that Mainers from Oxford County to Aroostook County and in between have an opportunity to see a televised, live debate.”

In a addition to Poliquin and Golden, there are two independents in the 2nd District race, Portland lawyer Tiffany Bond and Southwest Harbor educator Will Hoar.

Absentee ballots are available from town and city clerks throughout Maine.