FORT KENT– Ex-governor Angus King made a stop at Doris’ Café in Fort Kent as part of his northern Maine tour after his announcement two months ago that he would pursue a U.S. Senate seat as an independent candidate. He spent the morning with the Chasse family and others in the small diner.
King arrived in Fort Kent the previous night and was leaving after breakfast to visit Madawaska as part of a multi-town northern Maine tour that also included stops in Houlton, Mars Hill, Presque Isle, and Caribou, said Deputy Director of Political and Field Operations Ben Tucker. Tucker was born in Presque Isle, although he currently lives in Norway, Maine.
Although King said the purpose of the tour was essentially an information gathering mission, in which King is conducting an informal survey to find out which issues are most important to Maine residents, he was vocal about a few key issues.
He referenced Olympia Snowe’s resignation letter, in which she said, according to King, that the legislative process was too frustrating, and she was unable to get anything done.
He said that if Snowe was unable make the system work with her experience and contacts and seniority, “We’ve got to try something different, and that’s me.”
He spoke about his background as two-term governor of the State of Maine, as a 20-year Independent, and listed a few of the issues facing Mainers in 2012 and beyond, including the national debt, health care issues, energy, and environmental issues.
“We can’t get to any of those problems if the Senate is broken,” he said.
King used the metaphor of a broken wrench to describe the Senate, “the instrument the Constitution gives us to solve the problems,” and said if the wrench is broken, we can’t expect to find resolution.
He said an expanding use of the filibuster is an example of a “broken Senate.” According to Dictionary.com, a filibuster is the use of irregular or obstructive tactics by a member of a legislative assembly to prevent the adoption of a measure generally favored or to force a decision against the will of the majority.
In the last 75 to 100 years, he said, Senate has employed the filibuster a relatively small number of times, while in the last five years or so, it’s been used about 100 times.
“It’s a routine part of how business [in Washington] is done,” he said.
His rallying cry is to “get people thinking about solving problems instead of winning elections.”
He said that everywhere in Maine, he’s spoken with the constituents of those elected officials and they generally don’t care about the results of an election, they just want a problem solved. He said a small number of senators, say four or five, who were oriented toward solving problems, could make a big difference in fixing that wrench.
When questioned about our legislative leaders having access to services and benefits, such as affordable health care, that are withheld from the constituents who elected them, he said, “It undermines confidence in the system. Our political system is based on trust.”
He said trust in our political leaders and in the system is at an all-time low.
About border security, he said he was hesitant to answer questions when he is still learning about the issues, but said, “I worry we might be over-doing, overreacting.”
As the U.S. reduces its involvement in Afghanistan, and presumably in other foreign conflicts, the unmanned drones developed and used for remote surveillance and attack on foreign soil will likely be seen more often on domestic soil and in domestic conflicts.
King discussed the Fourth Amendment rights that the U.S. Constitution guarantees its citizens, that being freedom from unreasonable search and seizures, and said that he believes this includes freedom from “eyes in the sky.” However, he said the tension between security and privacy is not a new one for U.S. citizens, and he believes that incidences in which these two rights are perceived as being in conflict may need to be weighed case by case.
The senatorial candidate also spoke about the debt, and said, “We’ve got to do something. It’s unfair to the next generation.”
He said historically each generation has left the next generation in better shape, but that the debt with which we are saddling the next generation prevents this, perhaps for the first time in the history of our country. He also said resolution might well be found in ensuring that no one is sacrificed, even if this means no one is happy with the proposed compromise.
King explained, “We need to find a solution that is equally unpalatable [to both parties].” He has spoken out in favor of the Simpson-Bowles plan, a national deficit-reduction plan with a controversial history, although he is quoted in a May 6, 2012 New York Times article as having said that taming the deficit without revenue increases isn’t realistic.
The full plan is accessible online at http://www.fiscalcommission.gov/sites/fiscalcommission.gov/files/documents/TheMomentofTruth12_1_2010.pdf, and an abbreviated version at http://enacttheplan.com/national-commission-fiscal-responsibility-and-reform.
King’s entourage confirmed his information-gathering goals, and his willingness to strike out where others fear to tread. Tyler Dunham is King’s Campaign Transportation Coordinator and Campaign Videographer, and a fellow pavement hog. The day after King left office in 2003, he and his family took a cross-country road trip. Dunham traveled across the U.S. in a school bus with three other friends for a fundraising web TV show. Viewers of the show chose challenges for the entrepreneurs to complete in each of the communities through which they passed; money raised went to local organizations and programs dedicated to education, getting individuals outdoors, and human services, said the website for the fundraising program, http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lovethebus/love-the-bus-80-challenges-for-good.
King and Dunham met at a Juice conference in Camden where both were speaking; Dunham was speaking about his venture into the “creative economy” with his bus trip.
Dunham said, “Angus really wants to solve problems in a way that works best for most people. He loves talking to people, and loves The County. It’s the first place he came after he was elected Governor.”
Tucker agreed, saying that King was looking to reconnect with the issues specific to the St. John Valley and Aroostook County. He called Maine “a big small town”, saying the campaign had picked up over 13,000 Facebook followers, with over 1300 volunteers signed up to help out, including interns and college students.
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