- Associated Press - Thursday, August 7, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Clay Pell says he is disappointed that Providence Mayor Angel Taveras has joined Treasurer Gina Raimondo in launching a negative campaign in the Democratic primary.

Pell, 32, responded to an ad Taveras released this week criticizing him for having nine jobs in eight years and questioning his credentials as a Rhode Islander.

Pell, who faces Taveras and Raimondo in the Sept. 9 primary, spoke on Thursday while unveiling his health policy plan. He did not respond to the specific criticism but said campaigns should be about ideas and the future and not about “tearing people down.”

It was the first attack ad aimed at Pell. Until now, Raimondo has aired ads critical of Taveras’ record in Providence and the city’s high unemployment. Taveras responded to Raimondo by defending his record. Pell has stuck to positive commercials highlighting his policy ideas.

Pell, the grandson of the late U.S. Sen. Claiborne Pell, said his campaign has energy and momentum.

Pell is a former prosecutor in the U.S. Coast Guard and one-time Obama administration official who has never sought elective office until now. He worked from April through October last year as a deputy assistant secretary for international and foreign language education at the U.S. Department of Education.

At the Rhode Island Free Clinic, Pell said he is also disappointed that Taveras does not believe Pell’s service in the military, the Department of Education and in the Obama administration qualifies him to be governor.

“I am going to continue running a campaign based on ideas, based on how we need new vision for this state, in education, in the economy, in health care,” he said. “We need new ideas and a fresh approach.”

In his new health policy plan, Pell said that if elected, he would give more responsibly to the state Executive Office of Health & Human Services for promoting preventative care and providing a continuum of holistic care. He said he would bring together the state, local government, community organizations, the private sector and major institutions to improve the health care system. Pell also said he believes deeply in the president’s work to provide affordable, high-quality health care to all Americans.

Republicans Allan Fung and Ken Block are seeking their party’s nomination. Gov. Lincoln Chafee isn’t seeking re-election.

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