Sen. Angus King is an unusual politician. He really likes people. I know politicians who, while talking to you, will be looking over your shoulder to see who is coming next. That’s not Angus.

One year, I spent two hours escorting him around the Sportsman’s Show in Augusta, where my goal was to get him through the show’s five aisles. We only made it through 1½ aisles because he had to talk — at length — to everyone along the way.

I’ve been an enthusiastic supporter of Angus since his first campaign for governor, when the group I worked for, the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, endorsed him. That year, my friend Harry Vanderweide and I helped Angus tape an ad featuring outdoor issues.

We put Angus in a canoe on the edge of the pond next to my house and started peppering him with suggestions on what to say. After a while, Angus told us to just shove him off, so we did.

They began immediately filming the ad, and he talked for exactly 28 seconds and stopped. That was the amount of time he had to talk in the ad, but I have no idea how he knew when to stop. No one told him to do that. And his message was perfect, far better than anything Harry and I suggested.

In that same campaign, we wanted a real Mainer to do an ad for Angus, so we chose my dad. We taped the ad in Dad’s living room in Winthrop. Essentially Dad said, “Yes, Angus is from Virginia, but he’s still OK.” When that ad aired on TV, Angus went up 5 points in the polls. And he and Dad became great friends.

One year between Angus’ service as governor and senator, my brother, sister, and I were celebrating Dad’s birthday in his kitchen and we heard a knock at the door. It was Angus, with arms full of gifts. Unbeknownst to us, Dad had invited him to his birthday party, and he came.

Angus also visited Dad several times when Dad was in the hospice unit at Togus. He does a lot of things like that, without publicity.

He did get a nice story in this newspaper in early June when he spoke at the graduation of 11 students in Jackman. I doubt many senators would travel to a remote area to speak at the graduation of just 11 students. He even stayed to visit with the kids and their parents.

I loved his speech focused on 10 things he wished someone had shared with him when he was 18, including making sure you regret the things you did and not the things you didn’t do. “Don’t look back and say, ‘I wish I would have tried,” he said.

And then he shared the story of his oldest son, Ben, who worked on a presidential campaign when he had just gotten out of high school. It wasn’t much of a job, mostly making copies. But he impressed people, and years later worked for President Bill Clinton in the White House because someone who worked there remembered his work ethic and attitude.

One of his final tips was to never stop learning. “Don’t feel that today is the end of learning,” he said. “You have to continue to learn and listen.” I know Angus really believes that because he does it every day.

One thing he does every morning is get a briefing on the mayhem occurring all over the world. His job on the Intelligence Committee, where he is joined by Sen. Susan Collins, can’t get his day off to a great start. But I know he feels his work on that committee is vitally important.

I also appreciate his nonpartisanship, just one reason he is often featured on national news shows. From time to time, Angus and his wife Mary invite a senator and his or her partner to dine with them so they can get to know each other. That is such a good idea.

When I went to Washington, D.C., with newly elected Congressman Dave Emery in 1974, we were two 26-year-old young Republicans without much of an idea of what we were doing. Ed Muskie was a prominent senator, and he did everything he could to help us.

Today, no prominent member of one party would help a young member of the other party. And that’s just one of many problems and disappointments in our U.S. Congress.

We are very lucky Angus is willing to continue serving us for another eight years. And yes, he’s still listening to us, and learning.

George Smith can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon, ME 04352, or [email protected]. Read more of Smith’s writings at

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