With an audience of roughly 300 chamber members, candidates Angus King (I), Charlie Summers (R) and Cynthia Dill (D) sparred on issues ranging from welfare to the environment.
Summers went on the offensive against King, criticizing the former governor for vetoing a bill that would have increased funding for Meals on Wheels, while funneling money into a program that provided more laptops in schools. The Republican candidate claimed King did not have the right priorities. The latter defended his action, however, insisting the state needed to stop spending.
Summers went on the defensive himself when he denied charges he would dismiss Social Security and Medicare benefits. He shared a personal story to emphasize his point. Summers’ wife died 15 years ago and he had to raise two children alone. Social Security helped him through the rough period and he would ensure others have access to these same benefits.
"I had to make certain that, that awful event in their lives did not affect who they became and one of the things that helped us through that period of time was Social Security," Summers said. "I think it's critically important to lay out very clearly I will not do that."
Democratic candidate Dill poked fun at the lively exchanges between her two male opponents, joking, “There they go again.”
Dill joined in the attacks, however, when she criticized both King’s and Summers’ environmental records. She suggested their support for the Keystone Pipeline contradicted the need to control climate change. The Democratic contender proceeded to champion herself as a candidate who would enter office as a moderate and take the president’s side on health care and prevent tax breaks on those making over $250,000. She finished by highlighting her opponents’ wealth and gaining chuckles from the audience.
"I hope you actually explore the differences when it comes to the issues and put aside some of this bickering about money because, let's face it, that's one thing they both have in common.”
A Pan Atlantic SMS Group survey released Wednesday showed King with a comfortable 50 percent of the vote. Summers received 24 percent, while 12 percent voted for Dill. King holds on to his overall lead by almost 17 points, according to Real Clear Politics.