BANGOR, Maine — Independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler had the stage, and a broadcast audience, to himself last night at the Gracie Theater at Husson University. Cutler was the only candidate for governor to accept MPBN's invitation to debate.
Cutler issued his Democratic opponent a challenge: to free his supporters to vote for another candidate if polls show Mike Michaud can't win.
"Here we are 12 days out from this election, and Mr. Michaud cannot close the deal, he can't win a two-way race, he can't win a three-way race, with me in it or without me in it," Cutler said. "I challenge Mr. Michaud right now to make the commitment to give his voters the same blessing I gave mine: If you don't think Mike Michaud can win, then Mike should say, 'Go vote for someone else on Election Day.'"
Cutler was the only candidate to appear Thursday night at MPBN's gubernatorial debate at Husson University in Bangor. Gov. Paul LePage had declined the invitation, and Michaud said he would not attend without LePage present.
"I've given my blessing to my voters, to my supporters," Cutler said. "He should give the same blessing to his, because I can put a coalition of Democrats, Republicans, independents together and he cannot."
Cutler said the lessons of four years ago, when he narrowly lost to LePage in a three-way race with Democrat Libby Mitchell, should resonate for Michaud in this election.
"He should do the same thing we all wish Libby Mitchell had done four years ago," Cutler said.
Recent polls have shown Michaud and LePage running essentially neck-and-neck, with Cutler some distance behind. Four years ago, a late surge propelled Cutler to within just two percentage points of LePage.