Zingers, laugh lines and notes from the 2nd gubernatorial debate

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Eliot Cutler, Paul LePage and Mike Michaud on stage at Thomas College in Waterville on Thursday for the second gubernatorial debate. Photo by Jeff Pouland, special to the BDN.

Those who clamor for more civility in politics will likely be happy with the general tone of Maine’s gubernatorial debates so far. The atmosphere has been genial, even amicable, in each instance this week when the three candidates have shared the stage.

However,noting a lack of vitriol and malicious attacks doesn’t mean there haven’t been a few zingers and some lines that got big laughs from the crowd. Here are my favorites from the second debate.

If a video of the debate makes it online today, I’ll post that and give time stamps so you can check out these notable moments yourself.

  • Republican Gov. Paul LePage responded with bravado after Democrat Mike Michaud criticized him for skipping a few meetings of the six New England Governors, saying “Don’t worry, Mike. Next year there will be three Republican governors in New England.” (FYI, LePage has cited the partisan makeup of the region’s governors — he’s the only Republican — as one reason he doesn’t show up).
  • Independent Eliot Cutler used a baseball metaphor in an attempt to take the legs out of LePage’s boast that Maine has seen 22,000 new jobs created during his tenure in the Blaine House. He said that was like the manager of the Red Sox boasting about winning 71 games this year without mentioning they’d lost 91. “We’re doing about as well as the Red Sox did. Now baseball managers, like governors, ought to be fired for records like that.”
  • Cutler and Michaud had just finished debating the relative merits of trade deals with Europe, which Michaud supports because of the continent’s stricter labor and environmental standards, and China, which Cutler said presented far more opportunity. Enter LePage, who looked ever the pragmatist when he quipped: “I‘m not sure I’d look the other way to anyone who wants to invest in Maine.”
  • While most of the debate was conducted with the candidates seated at individual tables, Michaud thought it would be a good idea to stand up at his seat during his closing statement. Cutler, not to be outdone, decided he’d stand up too, and walk out in front of the tables. When it was finally LePage’s turn, he started with this little jab: “I’m not going to stand up because I don’t like to look down on people.”
  • It was Michaud who got what was probably the biggest laugh of the morning: During the lightning round, candidates were asked such hard-hitting questions as “What’s your favorite Maine food?” or “Who is your favorite Maine artist or entertainer?” To the latter question, Michaud answered: “Gov. Paul LePage.” 
Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House. Mario left the BDN in 2015.