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.
Then he said he won’t participate in the Maine Public debate either.
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. Poliquin’s campaign said he’s never said he would go to any of the others.
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.
Brent Littlefield, a Poliquin campaign consultant, said the congressman has never withdrawn from a debate. He denounced Golden’s claim as “100 percent false,” and defended 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 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 that will air on WAGM in Presque Isle, WABI in Bangor and WMTW channel 8 in Portland.
Brendan Conley, Poliquin’s 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.”
Absentee ballots are available from town and city clerks throughout Maine.
Jared Golden, left, and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin