The Maine Republican Party on Wednesday released video footage of a 2014 candidates’ forum that it says highlights Democratic candidate for Congress Emily Cain flip-flopping her stance on tax cuts passed in the 2011 state budget.

Cain, who is challenging Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin in a race to represent Maine’s 2nd District, has pointed to the 2011 state budget as one of her biggest accomplishments in the Legislature and an example of bipartisan work.

The political skirmish came one week before the candidates are set to face off in the first of two scheduled debates. They’ll first meet Wednesday, Oct. 19, in Presque Isle in a debate hosted by WAGM-TV; and again on Oct. 26 in a debate on WCSH and WLBZ, the NBC affiliates in Portland and Bangor.

Maine GOP Executive Director Jason Savage said Wednesday in a news release that Cain’s public stance on the 2011 tax cuts stands in contrast to remarks she made in the 2014 video, though her campaign was quick to refute the criticism.

“It’s been clear from the start that I disagreed with the tax cuts for the rich but was proud of the budget” overall, Cain said in an email.

Cain is in a close race with Poliquin, who as of June 30 led Cain by about $1 million in fundraising, though she could be closing the gap. Cain’s campaign on Wednesday released preliminary fundraising figures for the third quarter of 2016 showing that she has raised more than $2.6 million to date, while a spokesman for Poliquin said he has raised more than $3 million this election cycle.

Wednesday’s video release, which the GOP foreshadowed as a “major political announcement,” includes footage of Cain in a 2014 candidates’ forum saying she “hated” the tax cuts in the 2011 budget and that it was “the worst budget I’d ever seen in my 10 years there.”

Subsequent ads by the GOP in the 2016 campaign point to Cain’s work in cutting taxes and passing a 2011 budget while also making reference to the budget in relation to working families. The GOP said they paint the picture that Cain is trying to claim credit for tax cuts her caucus was against in 2011.

“This video is concrete proof of Emily Cain’s dishonesty,” Savage said in Wednesday’s release. “Emily Cain should apologize and admit how she has been deliberately deceiving Maine voters.”

The GOP specifically pointed to an ad released by Cain’s campaign, saying she “cut taxes for Maine families” and shows her standing alongside Gov. Paul LePage as an example of Cain “claiming credit for these tax cuts and budget that she ‘hated.'”

They also pointed to a flier that boasts of “tax cuts for Maine families and small businesses.”

In 2011, there were Republican majorities in the House and Senate, and Republican Gov. Paul LePage was newly elected. In that climate, Cain has said she built relationships that helped pass a budget with the largest tax cut in Maine history in 2011 — about $150 million.

At the time the budget passed, Cain told the Portland Press Herald, “My caucus hates these tax cuts. It hates them.” Cain clarified, however, that the statement referred to Democrats in general and that as House minority leader, it was her job to find consensus during a difficult budget year.

LePage approved the budget, although he originally had called for more drastic tax cuts. Other Republican leaders at the time praised the budget, and while some Democrats were unhappy with cuts to social programs, it ultimately passed by wide margins in the House and the Senate.

Cain said in her email Wednesday that the first draft of the budget as presented by Republicans in 2011 was “all help for the rich” and that it wasn’t the right approach, but the final budget was a good example of bipartisan work.

“The original version of the budget was focused on tax cuts for the rich,” Cain said Wednesday. “I’ve never made any secret of the fact that I opposed the original budget, then or now. The work that I’m proud of and the record I’m running on is the bipartisan agreement that was reached.”

Republicans also sought in Wednesday’s release to link the issues with the hotly contested presidential race — a subject neither Cain nor Poliquin has wanted to talk about.

“This is reminiscent of Hillary Clinton’s approach to TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) or Clinton’s big bank speeches,” Savage said in the release. “Emily Cain is literally saying one thing to a group of people, and then blatantly saying the opposite to another in her television ads.”

That issue has cut both ways, though. On Tuesday, Poliquin again refused to answer multiple questions about whether he supports Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. A campaign spokesman later said it was “ridiculous” for reporters to ask Poliquin questions about Trump.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm


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