Monday night’s gubernatorial debate, hosted by CBS 13 and this newspaper, was almost unwatchable. The rhetoric lacked so much in substance, and was dominated by one-liners and jabs by the opponents.
To make matters worse, there were large swaths of supporters for each candidate in the crowd cheering and clapping loudly in a battle of oneupmanship each time their respective candidates finished speaking. This gave the debate more of a high-school-pep-rally-crossed-with-Jerry-Springer-episode type of feel, rather than the informative, beneficial-for-Maine-politics type of feel that it should have had, but did not.
Democratic candidate, Congressman Mike Michaud — whose candidacy I have publicly supported for months — apparently took a cue from President Obama in his first debate with Mitt Romney back in 2012 in which he responded to the Republican hopeful’s attacks with an awkward, disengaged grin.
Republican Gov. Paul LePage — whose lies I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to dispel — spent a lot of time waving his arms around and raising his voice (even outright interrupting Michaud several times).
LePage said in his closing statements, “as an elected official, we have the right to our opinion. What we don’t have the right to do is alter facts,” just moments before posing several of his administration’s controversial measures as factually positive for Maine. In other words, he altered facts immediately after suggesting that his opponents have altered facts.
Then there’s independent candidate, Eliot Cutler — whom I have called on to drop out from the race.
Cutler, who at one point refused to answer a question from moderator Gregg Lagerquist, saying “you know what, I think people have heard enough,” is widely regarded as the candidate without a chance to win.
But not only does he refuse to drop out, despite the fact that his candidacy only serves to skew the election in LePage’s favor (and according to fellow BDN blogger Mike Tipping, is now being supported by the GOP in an effort to perpetuate said skewing), he also seems disillusioned to the point of still believing he has a chance to defy all logic and win:
“Maine people need a leader that they can be proud of, and I will be that leader,” said Cutler in his closing remarks.
No Mr. Cutler, you will not be.
Cutler did make one excellent statement, though, after an extended back and forth between LePage and Michaud:
“I was just listening to Mike and Paul arguing, and I was thinking about the people at home, and wondering if this argument means anything to them.”
How ironic that the man who moaned and groaned for months about how important debates between the candidates were for the people of Maine has now resorted to belittling the two candidates who actually have a chance in the race for debating.
Still, he’s right because in the end, all these debates have done is serve as a platform for the candidates to reiterate the same glossed over lip service that has already been reported by the media ad nauseam for the past several months.
When asked why Mainers should vote for him, Cutler responded, “I think we oughta’ define leadership by what the people of Maine need and want right now. They need a chance, they need a fair shot. They need an opportunity to succeed.”
He’s right about that, but whether or not he could deliver on that promise if elected is irrelevant.
Because he doesn’t have a chance.