Good morning from Augusta, where your Daily Brief author is a little bleary eyed from watching more than four hours of presidential debates last night.
I don’t know what has happened to me. I can’t even sit through a whole Sox game any more and a movie has to be especially gripping (like Spaceballs or the Blues Brothers) to pull me to the end. I might as well admit that I’m a political junkie who’s having a harder and harder time hiding that fact from his wife (sorry, babe).
As is typically the case with these things, I don’t think any of the candidates particularly bombed, though Donald Trump had some embarrassing moments, in my opinion, when it came to foreign policy issues (paraphrase: I don’t know a lot about that stuff now but trust me, I will before the election) and uncomfortable clashes with fellow candidate Carly Fiorina. Jeb Bush did a respectable job and came across like a policy wonk while I thought Ben Carson was flat and spoke too much in generalities.
The winners of the night, to me, though at this moment I haven’t seen what the national experts think (more on that in the Reading list below), were Fiorina, Marco Rubio and Chris Christie. Fiorina looked downright presidential, Rubio was measured and knowledgable and Christie came across as a relaxed but forceful everyman.
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had enough criticism heaped on them, with some of the same points torqued over and over again, that at times it felt a bit over the top in a way that will give Democrats fodder to paint their Republican opponents as political extremists in blinders. Clinton and the other Democrats will have a tough time articulating a clear foreign policy path forward for voters, especially at a time when unrest in the Ukraine, Iraq and Syria is growing.
Not that you care what I think. I just thought discussing this in the Daily Brief might mean I can count my hours in front of the tube last night toward my work week. (Sorry, boss). — Christopher Cousins
Editor’s note: Nice try. Get to work, Cousins.
Question 1 gaining support
A major reform and funding infusion for Maine’s clean election system, all contained in a citizen-initiated referendum we’ll all vote on in November, continues to creep toward Election Day without any organized opposition that I have seen.
This afternoon, members of the Small Business Coalition, which represents more than 4,000 businesses across Maine, will gather in Lewiston to voice their support for the question.
“Small business owners will discuss how their big business competitors use political donations and lobbing to tilt the playing field against Main Street businesses,” reads a press release from the group, which is aligned with the progressive Maine People’s Alliance.
Question 1 proposes a range of campaign finance reforms, including increasing public funding for candidates, requiring special interest groups to list their top three donors on all political ads; ramping up penalties for violating campaign finance laws, and implementing new funding levels for clean election candidates. The referendum also calls for the Legislature to find and cut some $6 million in corporate tax breaks to help finance the proposed changes.
Today’s press conference begins at 2 p.m.
- GOP lawmakers seek OPEGA probe of Maine anti-tobacco program — Mal Leary, MPBN
- Direct, personal attacks at second GOP debate — David A. Fahrenthold, The Washington Post
- LePage seeks ban on food stamps for Mainers with $5,000 in assets — Christopher Cousins, BDN
- Maine to make energy plan, help with offshore wind — Darren Fishell, BDN
- Census bureau: Number of uninsured down in every state except Maine — Mike Tipping, BDN
- The odds are good that Nate Silver is coming to Maine — Christopher Cousins, BDN
- What Maine can learn from Colorado’s legalization of marijuana — Scott Gagnon, BDN
- (Tribute) Leon Gorman: A life lived well acting on his values — David Farmer, BDN
Overheard in my living room
My 10-year-old watched some of the debate with me last night. Here are a few of his observations:
“If they’re all on the same side, why are they so mean to each other?”
“Why is there a whole airplane inside a library?”
“Who is Hillary Clinton? Why do they hate her?”
“Are they going to vote for each other?”
“Is ‘North Woods Law’ on?”
“Can I have some ice cream?”
“Good night, dad.” — Christopher Cousins