Have you heard this song before?

Politics + Other Mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  March 5, 2014

Can you name the Maine politician who said this?

“At a time when American workers are facing new challenges, efforts must be made to enhance opportunities for prosperity and economic success.”

That’s the kind of bland, near-meaningless soundbite that results in the state being papered with warnings not to drive or operate heavy equipment while listening to Democratic gubernatorial candidate and US Representative Mike Michaud. But that quote didn’t come from Michaud.

It’s from a 2002 interview in the Bangor Daily News with John Baldacci, then a Democratic congressman and candidate for governor.

Let’s try again.

“Innovation is the key to Maine’s economic future, and I believe that entrepreneurs are at the heart of the innovation process.”

Obviously, that’s independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler making another of his vague pronouncements on the economy. Except it’s not Cutler.

It’s Baldacci again, from a speech the new governor gave in 2003 in Calais.

Here’s a triple-decker of quotes, all from the same person:

“Maine needs to be in a more competitive position in terms of taxes, utility rates and other costs.”
“Maine needs to lower our overall tax burden to below the New England average.”
“Maine’s regulatory burden must be simplified.”

Clearly, that’s Republican Governor Paul LePage laying out the basic platform he’s promoted for four years, although usually he’s done so with more bombast and occasional profanity. But that absence of swagger and swearing should have tipped you off that it isn’t LePage.

It’s Baldacci, of course, this time from a 2004 report called “An Economic Development Strategy for Maine.”

Could it be that all the major choices for governor in 2014 are little more than slight variations on the former two-term governor best remembered for his failed Dirigo Health program, his failed Pine Tree Development Zones, his failed consolidation of the county jails, and his creation of a Department of Health and Human Services so big it was bound to fail?

It could be argued that three sets of quotes don’t prove much of anything. Just because Baldacci occasionally said something that sounded like Cutler (“I’ve never been partisan. I don’t intend to be. I think you’ve got to solve problems” – interview with the Associated Press, December 25, 2003); LePage (“We must provide tax relief as the first order of business in the next legislative session. I won’t let the Legislature go home until the job is done” – op-ed, Portland Press Herald, October 22, 2004); or Michaud (“Leading the state forward in keeping with Maine values requires vision, planning, listening, and experimentation. This is what I have been offering as we work together toward our goals” – op-ed, Morning Sentinel, August 6, 2005) doesn’t mean that everything the current crop of candidates says is just regurgitated blather from a guy who couldn’t deliver the goods.

Michaud has been praised for presenting a plan to boost Maine’s economy, including a proposal to give tuition-free sophomore years to students at state schools. “We want more of our people to have college degrees. At the same time, we want economic opportunities for them once they graduate.”

Oops, sorry. That wasn’t Michaud. It was Baldacci, from a speech he gave in Waterville back in 2001.

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