Nicole Clegg, Vice President of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, speaks in Monument Square in Portland on Tuesday during a rally for abortion rights. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

With Election Day a week away, about 200 people rallied in support of Democratic candidates and abortion rights in Portland Tuesday afternoon.

Attendees filled Monument Square for the event organized by the Maine Democratic Party, waiving signs in support of incumbent Gov. Janet Mills and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree. Others held signs declaring this month to be “Roevember,” a reference to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that overturned the 1973 decision that had granted abortion rights to women.

Republicans, meanwhile, held a news conference in Portland Tuesday morning to focus on inflation, an issue at the center of the party’s campaign to replace Mills with former Gov. Paul LePage. Party leaders criticized Mills for statements they say were dismissive of inflation concerns and show she is out of touch with what voters really care about.

In Monument Square, Democratic candidates and advocates warned that Republicans could restrict access to abortion if the party wins control of state government.

Nicole Clegg, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, said Mainers should not take access to safe and legal abortion for granted just because the existing state law preserves access. The law can be easily overturned by Republicans, she said.

“It’s easy to say that Maine has good laws and we’re all set,” Clegg said. “But that’s a dangerous red herring that’s pushed by candidates that want to jump at the chance to take away your rights.”


Mills again vowed to veto any bill that would restrict access to abortion and accused LePage of misleading voters about whether he would allow new restrictions to become law.

“It’s time for us to make a little noise, because we have one week left – seven days to get out the vote,” Mills said. “So long as I am governor, you can be damn sure my veto pen will stand in the way of any and all efforts to undermine, roll back or outright eliminate the right to abortion in our state. … That’s my pledge to you and I have never changed, and I have never wavered.”

LePage has supported the overturning of Roe v. Wade, said there should be no abortion and attended anti-abortion rallies as governor. But he has sought to downplay abortion as an issue at stake in the Nov. 8 election, saying he has no desire to change the existing state law.

Cathy Walter of Gorham attended the rally in support of Democratic candidates and abortion rights in Monument Square Tuesday afternoon. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

When pressed during one debate, LePage stated that he would veto a bill banning most abortions after 15 weeks, as some states have done. Maine’s law bans most abortions after viability, which typically occurs at 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

“Governor Mills has been spending millions of dollars telling Maine people I would change the law,” LePage said last month, referring to ads attacking LePage’s position on abortion. “I support the current law as it is.”

Meanwhile, the chairwoman of the Maine Republican Party held a news conference earlier Tuesday in downtown Portland to focus attention on a different issue that the party hopes will motivate voters to elect LePage.


Demi Kouzounas criticized Mills for comments Republicans say dismissed inflation and the economic pain it’s causing Maine voters.

Kouzounas circulated an audio clip of comments Mills delivered Sunday, when the governor said Republicans’ focus on inflation as a core campaign issue is a distraction. “It’s something we got to deal with, a major problem, but they are distracting people from the issues they really want to vote on,” Mills said.


Kouzounas’ criticism of Mills followed statements sent out Monday by the LePage campaign and the Republican Governors Association.

Maine Republican Party Chairwoman Demi Kouzounas speaks about inflation during a Portland news conference Tuesday, saying Mills is out of touch with the concerns of Maine voters. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

“This is shocking and so out-of-touch,” LePage said in a written statement. “People are hurting. People are scared. Some are deciding whether to put heating oil in the tank, buy groceries, or pay for medicines. Janet Mills cannot represent the average Mainer. She just doesn’t understand.”

“Janet Mills is no friend of working Mainers or struggling seniors, and these comments reveal that all her talk about helping struggling people is just lip service,” RGA spokesman Will Reinert said in a separate statement.

Mills has said during debates that inflation is a global problem related in part to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and not something that can be blamed on a governor or on Democrats. At the same time, she has highlighted efforts to ease the impact of inflation.

Mills on Tuesday again highlighted the bipartisan effort that led to $850 inflation relief checks to help people pay their bills and a state program to help small businesses with rising energy costs by crediting their electric utility accounts by more than $2,000. And she said she’s working with the congressional delegation to secure more funding for low-income heating assistance.

“Those who spoke this morning have no plan to address inflation,” Mills said of Republican Party officials. “We have plans and we have actions that speak volumes in addressing inflation. … It will be the highest priority on our agenda to work with the new Legislature to take additional measures to address inflation.”

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