It's Bastille Day and I spent a few minutes of it speaking with Maine gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage in connection with a forthcoming piece in Down East.
One aside for Maine politicos that won't make it into the magazine piece:
The radical new Maine G.O.P. platform and Mr. LePage share one thing in common: both have the support of a lot of Tea Party folks. What isn't clear is the extent to which the Republican nominee shares the spirit and policy priorities of the people who crafted the platform, which praises the Tea Party in its preamble.
The Democrats have tried to make the case that the two are very much in sync, putting out a press release that alleges, among other things, that "key members of [LePage's] staff were involved in crafting" the platform. Intriguing stuff.
I checked in with the Dems' campaign coordinator, Arden Manning, for more details. The release, he said, actually refers to just one LePage staffer, Cynthia Rosen.
Ms. Rosen was, indeed, one of the co-authors of the new platform, and is an officer of the group that sponsored it, the Knox County Republican Committee. She's also controversial in Republican circles, after an erratic e-mail ascribed to her surfaced on their earnest discussion site, As Maine Goes.
But is Rosen a LePage campaign staffer? The only evidence I could find: a $500 payment made to her for consulting services before the primary. [That's a PDF file]
Here's what LePage had to say when I spoke with him: "Cynthia Rosen is not on our staff. We did some work in the primary -- and she's a supporter -- but she's not on the staff now."
Regarding the platform itself? LePage: "Am I one hundred percent in favor of the platform? I’m not 100 percent in favor of anything. It's a working document, like the Constitution is a working document. The bible is a working document. There’s always something that can be enhanced or changed."
Preliminary results of this investigation: inconclusive.
[Update, 7/21/10: In appearing to distance himself from Biblical literalism and Constitutional constructionists in his response to my question about the G.O.P. platform, LePage has elicited a torrent of comment -- both positive and negative -- over at As Maine Goes. (And, yes, he really did "say that.") Also, I've just added the phrase "when I spoke to him" to the third from the last paragraph, to make it even clearer that his comments were from my interview.]
I am an award-winning journalist and author of American Nations, Ocean's End, The Lobster Coast, and The Republic of Pirates. I won a 2012 George Polk Award for my investigative reporting. My fifth book, American Character, comes out in March 2016.