Clinton comes to help Michaud

The nation’s top Democratic draw – former President Bill Clinton – is headed to Maine to stump for Mike Michaud. The gubernatorial candidate can expect both a fundraising boost and, more importantly, a potent adrenaline shot to the arm of his campaign following the Sept. 2 event.

But Clinton has stumped for losing candidates before (ask 2010 Democratic nominee Libby Mitchell). And Michaud, who is duking it out with Republican Gov. Paul LePage in the race for the Blaine House, will need the Big Dog’s visit to kick off a high-energy campaign season, rather than serve as a last minute attempt to stave off a loss, as it did for Mitchell.

Per a release from his campaign, Michaud will be joined by Clinton for an evening rally and reception at Ocean Gateway in Portland.

“Just three hours after announcing that President Bill Clinton will campaign with U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud next Tuesday, the free rally reached capacity with more than 750 online RSVPs for general admission,” a Michaud release breathlessly said.

The Democrat highlighted Clinton’s reputation as a bipartisan dealmaker in his statement on the event.

In 2010, Clinton visited Southern Maine Community College in South Portland in late September as part of a three-state New England stump trip.

While Michaud and LePage remain neck-and-neck at the top of the polls, independent candidate Eliot Cutler – who narrowly lost to LePage last time around following Mitchell’s nosedive – remains stuck in a distant third place. Cutler received a boost of sorts last week when his fellow independent, Sen. Angus King, endorsed his candidacy. But he’s still struggling to compete for the anti-LePage voters with Michaud.

One Maine Democratic strategist thinks Cutler’s only shot is if the national political picture worsens for Democrats, thus dragging less-partisan-minded voters away from Michaud. Or, if the Maine Democratic Party falters as it did in 2010, by pushing out offensive, xenophobic mailers highlighting Cutler’s Chinese business ties.

“But I don’t see that happening again, and only see Cutler in a distant third, similar to [Mitchell] in 2010,” he says.

Another local political hand, a Republican, is a bit more snarky when describing how Cutler can triumph: “Magic fairies appear above Portland and sprinkle magic dust over the land.”

But seriously?

“A couple public polls showing Michaud trailing LePage would create an opening; desperate anti-LePage voters start acting frantically,” he says. “Or, LePage royally steps in it again and Cutler grabs a few points of GOP support, bringing it closer to 30-30-30 [polling breakdown], and Cutler squeaks by.”

Rebekah Metzler

About Rebekah Metzler

Rebekah Metzler is a political writer with U.S. News and World Report, who hails from the state of Maine where she covered state politics for the Lewiston Sun Journal and MaineToday Media. She spent much of 2012 covering the presidential campaign and particularly enjoyed her time on the road in states like Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Ohio and Ohio. Metzler earned her master’s degree in journalism from Boston University and is a Bowdoin College grad.