Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Maine: LePage on "Tea Party" staffer

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, 7/20/10: The Maine Democrats quoted from this LePage interview in their latest press release, posted at MPBN's Capital Connection, along with my comment.]

[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.]


  1. Mr. Tipping is absolutely correct: I've used the wrong word. I just swapped "erstwhile" for "earnest." (I'd have struck out the text to make the edit more obvious, but I actually don't know how to do that.)

    Further evidence that copy editors really do improve journalism.

  2. Can I ask what the source of the quote is, please?

  3. Just Asking: as should be abundantly clear, the quotes are from my interview with Mr. LePage last week.

  4. Thank you, Mr. Woodard. It wasn't exactly specifically clear, given that you had posted stuff from other places. I believe you 100%, having interviewed Mayor LePage myself.

    I just wanted to make sure in advance that I could answer that question before I start pointing people to your blog.

  5. Just Asking: To eliminate any ambiguity, I've just added the phrase "when I spoke to him" to the post.

  6. Thank you. Sorry for the trouble.

  7. Paul LePage was raised in the Roman Catholic Church and attends that Church. Catholic theology goes far beyond Bible Study. It incorporates a body of dogma and interpretation, notably by St. Augustine of Hippo and St. Thomas Aquinas.

    As a Roman Catholic he has long since distanced himself from "biblical literalism."

    I'm not at all sure what a "Constitutional constructivist" might be, but I'm pretty sure I'm not a Cc, not have I met a Tea Partyer who chose that name for him- or herself. It is clear, however, that it is a "working document." Art. I., Sect. 8, clause 18 alone is enough to demonstrate this.

    I know Cynthia Rose. She's a devoted supporter, but in sense a "staffer."

    As for the "radical platform" it was adopted on the fly largely on the strength of its preamble. Those who composed it set out to lay a collection of idea on the table for discussion and debate. Some of its points were compatible with the platform committee, some were a bit esoteric (e.g., Austrian school economics) and some may be construed to imply radicalism.

  8. John: I'm not suggesting Mr. LePage just changed his opinions on the Bible or the Constitution, but rather that by expressing them he is communicating the "distance" between him and both literalists and strict constructionists (the latter perhaps more accurately termed "originalists.")

    Many voters would be interested in knowing more about exactly what he does and doesn't think about each point in the new Maine G.O.P. platform.

  9. This is what paranoia looks like: Cynthia Rosen, upset that her county caucus is being blamed for the theft of a poster from a middle school classroom during the Maine GOP convention, finds it less likely that one of her tea party compatriots committed the theft and more likely that there was a conspiracy afoot to discredit her and her tea party friends. She writes that she cannot imagine anyone she knows stealing the poster and therefore:

    The only thing I can speculate at all is that not everyone in that room was in complete agreement with that Platform, nor my election for State Committee. It [the theft] would be a most effective action, as we can see from the above comments, for a discrediting and smearing.

    Did anyone see black helicopters hovering above King Middle School on the date in question? The Council on Foreign Relations would obviously have the resources to pull off such a clever operation.

    Cynthia, get real. You roll with crazies. Now you’re in the public eye so the crazy is going to be a bit harder to get away with. You are damaging to your movement and the Paul LePage campaign. I’d suggest you resign but I’m not sure exactly what your title is. Conspiracy Theorist In Chief?