- Associated Press - Monday, October 20, 2014

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Accusations flew Monday when the three men vying for governor met for another televised debate dominated by taxes, energy and the economy.

The hour-long debate became bitter at times between Republican Gov. Paul LePage and Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, who are polling neck and neck, while independent Eliot Cutler attempted to show he was above partisan bickering.

“Maine people are tired of 11 years of partisan warfare,” said Cutler, who narrowly lost to LePage in 2010 and is polling at a distant third. “They are tired of people who believe that their parties are more important than the state of Maine.”

LePage, who’s vying for a second term, slammed Michaud’s plan for how to improve Maine, saying it sounds “like a recipe for blueberry cobbler” with “no details behind it.”

Meanwhile, Michaud blasted LePage for cutting taxes for wealthy residents and accused him of ignoring education in the state budget. LePage countered that his tax overhaul removed more than 70,000 low-income residents from the income tax rolls altogether.

The debate, held at the University of Southern Maine in Portland and aired live on WGME-TV, was the second televised debate for the three candidates. They will take the stage on Tuesday night for what’s expected to be the last time before the Nov. 4 election for a debate that will air on WMTW-TV in Portland and WABI-TV in Bangor.

On Monday, the candidates also touched on their ideas for how to aid the state’s public university system, their plans for accelerating its economic recovery and their views on the Common Core educational standards.

But some of the most heated moments came as the candidates discussed their opponents’ leadership styles.

After Michaud, a six-term congressman, touted his experience working with both major political parties while he was in the state Legislature, LePage said, “That was 30 years ago. What have you done since then?”

Michaud charged that LePage hasn’t done enough to help the state’s veterans, saying that “taking care of veterans is more than having ice cream socials at the Blaine House.”

Visibly upset, LePage countered that the events are put on by the first lady and told the Democrat “shame on you” for “taking her down because you don’t like my politics.”

Michaud also took issue with LePage’s claim that he isn’t a politician, saying he knows what issues most divide Maine voters, such as immigration and welfare.

“Governor … you’re not a leader,” Michaud said. “You don’t know how to bring people together.”

Cutler said that Maine residents need a leader who “they will be proud of.”

“Maine people need to have their confidence restored in themselves and in their great state,” Cutler said. “Maine people need a leader who will do that.”

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Follow Alanna Durkin at https://www.twitter.com/aedurkin

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