PORTLAND — Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, a rumored Republican presidential hopeful, visited the city’s waterfront Monday to stump for Maine GOP gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage.
People reportedly had to be turned away from the $750-a-plate luncheon for LePage, held at DiMillo’s Floating Restaurant. The fundraiser was not open to the media, but a press conference was held outside the restaurant after the event.
Barbour is the chairman of the Republican Governors Association and said he made the trip to Maine because LePage is a “great candidate.”
“He’s campaigned on the right things,” Barbour said.
Waterville Mayor LePage, who described himself as a “conservative who wants to move the state of Maine in the right direction,” said “the party’s over for the liberals in Augusta.”
Barbour said LePage has generated enthusiasm not just from Republicans, but independents and Democrats as well.
“That’s consistent with what is happening across the nation,” Barbour said. Of the 37 governor races in the U.S. this November, 19 of the seats are currently held by Democrats and 18 by Republicans.
“(Republicans) should come out of these elections with 30 or more (wins),” Barbour said, referring to the Republican Party.
When asked how he felt about being referred to as the “tea party candidate,” LePage said it doesn’t bother him at all.
“Maine people are tired of working for the government,” LePage said. “It’s time the government work for them.”
Barbour said people in Maine are anxious about the state’s economy and concerned about jobs.
“(LePage) is a businessman who gets things done,” he said.
LePage, who is general manager of the Marden’s discount store chain, has a double-digit lead in recent polls over Democratic candidate Elizabeth “Libby” Mitchell and independents Eliot Cutler, Shawn Moody and Kevin Scott.
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