Maine's longtime GOP U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe have been known to at times vote out of step with their fellow Republicans in Washington. At this weekend's NGA conference in the district Maine's Republican Governor Paul LePage was also unafraid to criticize his own party, calling out the field of Republican presidential candidates and pushing for a "fresh face" to challenge President Obama in November. The Maine Sunday Telegram reports on what the governor had to say about national party politics and the way his own state party handled what has been a sloppy caucus:
"LePage told reporters at the National Governors Association meeting here that he was hoping for a floor fight at the Republican National Convention in Tampa this summer. The outspoken Mainer also criticized the state's GOP for how it botched the much-maligned presidential caucuses earlier this month. Even as Republicans Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum compete for front-runner status with a win in Tuesday's Michigan primary, LePage said the entire field of GOP candidates is damaged goods because they have spent too much time bashing each other. 'I would love to see a good old-fashioned convention and a dark horse come out and do it in the fall,' he said. LePage said he didn't have a particular alternative candidate in mind."
LePage was elected governor in 2010 after previously serving eight years as mayor of Waterville. LePage was supported the Tea Party and won the election with 38.1 percent of the vote, followed by independent Eliot cutler with 36.7 percent. The Telegram notes that Lepage said the current GOP candidates broke Ronald Reagan's rule about not speaking ill of a fellow Republican and "have injured themselves and injured the party" with their attacks on each other.
"'The candidates in this primary have beat themselves up so badly it would be nice to have a fresh face that we all could say, 'Okay.' The country deserves better than having people stand up and keep criticizing each other.'"
While recent polling suggest that Republicans and GOP-leaning independents may disagree with LePage in regards to the convention, as a USA Today-Gallup Poll found last week that 66 percent of those surveyed say they wanted to see one of the current four candidates win enough delegates to secure the nomination ahead of the convention, POLITICO notes that the northern Republican is only pointing out the well known metaphorical elephant in the room among party leaders:
"He’s the first major public official to say what countless Republican insiders are murmuring in private: that the party might be better off with a wild-card candidate selected in August rather than one of the damaged options they already have. 'It’s been too messy. I just believe we ought to go to the convention and pick a fresh face,' LePage said. 'They beat themselves up so badly that I’d think it’d be nice to have a fresh face.'”
Mitt Romney was declared the winner of the weeklong non-binding Maine caucuses February 11 by the Maine GOP, however the decision was criticized for it did not include a county and several communities who had their caucuses postponed. Following votes in Washington County, Romney remained the narrow winner over Ron Paul. LePage told POLITICO he’s not a fan of the caucus process and would prefer to see a primary in the future.