Maine ex-US Sen. Mitchell urges political civility

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AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Former U.S. Senate leader George Mitchell urged Maine lawmakers on Tuesday to learn to listen, be patient and respect colleagues - even those with whom they disagree.

The Maine Democrat and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader said in an address to the state Legislature that politicians should respect their opponents in campaigns because they must work with the other side once they get into office and must compromise to effectively govern.

“Remember that no party has a monopoly on patriotism, on good intentions, or wisdom. To the extent it’s possible, try to forego the personal insult, and concentrate on the issues,” said Mitchell, who served as a special envoy in Northern Ireland and in the Middle East. “It’s better for you, and most importantly, it’s better for the people of Maine.”

Mitchell, a lawyer and former judge before serving in the Senate, spoke prior to the unveiling of his official portrait, painted by an artist from Dublin, Ireland, that will hang in the State House Hall of Flags.

He told lawmakers that his own personal style of Senate leadership involved working together with the other party, and he talked about how he regularly communicated with former Sen. Bob Dole, who was the Republican minority leader at the time.

“We share pride in the fact that we represented our country, first of all, our states, our parties and our constituents vigorously, and we hope, effectively, but without personal rancor or hostility. It can be done in Washington, in Augusta, in America,” he said.

A who’s who of Maine politics was on hand for Tuesday’s festivities although Republican Gov. Paul LePage was unable to attend. A spokeswoman said he was out of the office because of a “family medical issue.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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