WATERVILLE – During their debate at Colby College Thursday night, the candidates for the state’s Second Congressional District disagreed only on particulars of the $700 billion bailout of the nation’s economic system.

In the end, both opposed it.

Incumbent Michael H. Michaud, Democrat of Millinocket, seeking a fourth term in the U.S. House, said he voted against the bailout because it didn’t include enough safeguards for taxpayers, and that there was an alternative plan.

Republican challenger John Frary, a retired professor who lives in Farmington, replied that the only other option was “deliberation.”

Maine Public Broadcasting Network moderators Jennifer Rooks and A.J. Higgins posed questions to Michaud and Frary for an hour.

The moderators first asked questions to both, and then posed different questions to each. Queries from the public followed, and the debate ended as Michaud and Frary questioned each other.

Higgins began by stating that, so far, the bailout is not providing stability on Wall Street. He asked the candidates whether Congress should provide still more capital.

“I didn’t support the bailout,” Michaud said. “Congress should have identified a better plan and then stepped back. I have no faith that Congress five years down the road will be able to get a plan together to recoup the funding.”

Frary said the objective of the bailout was to “arrest panic.” And while he disagreed with Michaud, stating there “was no ‘plan B’,” he agreed that the bailout was a bad idea.

Midway through the debate, Rooks asked Michaud if the fact that he favors funding for family planning contradicts his pro-life beliefs. Michaud responded that family planning is necessary to prevent unintended pregnancies.

Rooks asked Michaud again if he is still pro-life, and whether he opposes abortion and the morning-after pill.

“I don’t go by labels,” Michaud responded. “I go by the issues. If someone is sexually assaulted on military bases, there must be emergency contraception.”

Rooks then asked Michaud whether he would favor the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in 1973.

“If other issues come up, I will look at them on an issue-by-issue basis,” Michaud said.

Frary, with his trademark hat and cane, paid for the publication of the “Frary Home Companion,” a newspaper insert. His campaign signs ask voters to “impeach ignorance,” and in his publication he blamed “unions and thugs” for the downfall of the state’s paper industry.

Michaud, a 30-year employee of Great Northern Paper Company, is a longtime union member.

Higgins asked Frary about remarks on his Web site stating that Michaud has “no brain” and “associates with union thugs.” Higgins asked Frary how he could make such remarks and still represent all the people of Maine.

“You don’t take offense to that, do you?” Frary responded, addressing his question to Michaud.

“It’s been an education,” Michaud answered.

Asked what federal measures might help Maine achieve energy independence and safeguard the environment, Frary advocated the drilling of oil, both off the Maine coast and in Alaska.

Michaud said there are many natural resources in the state such as wind power, and that Congress should devise a national energy policy through a bipartisan effort.

“Environmentalism is a wedge issue, beneficial to Democrats,” Frary responded. “It won’t be bipartisan; it will be by mutual concession.”

The debate will be replayed on MPBN radio stations at 1 p.m. Friday and at 4 p.m. Sunday, and on television at 3 p.m. Sunday and at 5 p.m. on Nov. 2.


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