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Samantha Lachman   |   July 11, 2014    3:12 PM ET

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) will be helping out former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) this weekend, but not in an explicitly political manner.

As the NH Journal first reported Thursday, Ayotte will preside over the nuptials of Scott Brown's 23-year-old daughter, Arianna, and her 23-year-old fiancée, who once served as an intern in Brown’s Senate office.

Brown is running for the Republican nomination in the hopes of unseating Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).

The wedding will take place at a winery in Lee, N.H.

“I consider it a great honor to have been invited to perform this ceremony, which will join the lives of two special young people -- Arianna and Jim. I'm looking forward to celebrating on Sunday,” Ayotte said in a statement.

An Ayotte spokesman said the wedding will be the first she has ever officiated.

The senator endorsed Brown in May, though the two have differed on policy matters.

A WMUR/University of New Hampshire poll released Tuesday shows Shaheen with a 12-point lead over Brown in a hypothetical head-to-head match-up.

Though Brown's summer will undoubtedly be filled with campaign events, he'll also be kept busy with family: his older daughter Ayla, who was a semi-finalist on the fifth season of “American Idol,” is getting married in Nashville, Tenn. in August.

Samantha Lachman   |   July 10, 2014    1:52 PM ET

Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) 2011 budget proposal has incited an advertising war in one of the country's premier Senate contests over how it would have affected Medicare beneficiaries.

The discord between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) began Tuesday, when Grimes' campaign put out its first negative ad criticizing McConnell for voting to open debate on the budget plan. McConnell fired back 24 hours later, calling Grimes' attack a "false" one.

Grimes' ad relied on a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report estimating that Ryan's budget would increase the out-of-pocket expenses for the average Medicare recipient from about $6,000 to $12,000 by 2022. A subsequent FactCheck.org piece evaluating Grimes' ad said her campaign's claim that the Ryan budget would have raised Medicare beneficiaries' costs by $6,000 a "distortion," since that amount has been disputed and Ryan's proposal would have exempted from its changes those who were already at or near retirement age.

McConnell's response to questions about his past support for Ryan's budget suggests he may be trying to keep the budget at arm's length. His campaign told FactCheck.org that since the motion to consider debate on the budget failed, “There is no way to speculate if [McConnell] would have voted for final passage without having debated amendments."

The campaign's comment is at odds with multiple statements McConnell made about the budget proposal as the bill was being debated, however. A declaration the senator made on "Meet the Press" -- “I voted for the Ryan budget" -- sounds more like a wholehearted endorsement of the plan than a cool one.

McConnell also said in the spring of 2011 on the Senate floor that the budget "would strengthen the social safety net so we can keep the promises we've made to America's seniors," and he commended the plan as one that would "address our most pressing problems head-on." On Fox News, McConnell said the plan was a "very sensible way to go to try to save Medicare."

Marina Fang   |   July 10, 2014   10:26 AM ET

A Texas congressman thinks President Barack Obama should take action to send the unaccompanied minors at the U.S.-Mexico border back to their native countries because of "the lovely way they're being treated."

Appearing on Sean Hannity's radio show Wednesday, Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) claimed the unaccompanied minors are receiving luxuries at the temporary facilities where they are being held.

"They belong back with their families. When you look at the lovely way they're getting treated -- they're getting free health care, free housing, you know, they're watching the World Cup on big screen TVs," he said.

But the conditions at the centers are anything but luxurious. Photos released last month reveal cramped and unsanitary spaces. Because of the influx of immigrants arriving at the centers, the centers are over capacity and ill-equipped to care for everyone. The photos show children sleeping on hard floors and in tight spaces.

In addition, Customs and Border Patrol officials are investigating reports of children being mistreated by border agents, some of whom are allegedly depriving the children of food and medical care.

Neugebauer added that sending the children back across the border would reduce the incentive for other undocumented immigrants to come to the U.S.

"What they were told is coming true: 'Hey, if you get to the U.S., you're going to really enjoy being there.' We need to send a signal that if you get here, you're going right back," he said. "As soon as you send several planeloads of people back that have paid big money to get their kids here...it's going to get their attention. We've got to send a signal that we cannot be the world's peacekeeper, and we can't be the world's humanitarian relief organization. The American taxpayers can't be responsible for this."

Some Republicans have recognized the children's plight. Conservative pundit Glenn Beck announced on Tuesday that he plans to deliver food, water, teddy bears and soccer balls to the children at the border. "We must open our hearts," he said.

Joining Beck at the border will be Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and religious leaders.

Samantha Lachman   |   July 9, 2014    4:38 PM ET

Georgia Democratic Senate nominee Michelle Nunn is joining the club of candidates who have proposed pledges to limit outside spending in their competitive races.

On Wednesday, Nunn sent a letter to Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) and businessman David Perdue asking them to sign on to a "Peach State Pledge" to "refuse" spending by outside groups in the general election.

Kingston and Perdue will face each other in a July 22 runoff for the Republican nomination in the hope of succeeding retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.).

"I believe we have an opportunity to send a message to Washington," Nunn said in her letter. "If we can join together and pledge to limit outside spending and third party ads, we can together show that the people of our state are tired of politics as usual. That message isn’t exclusively a Democratic message or a Republican message, it’s just common sense."

Georgia's Senate race has already seen almost $6 million in outside spending, according to OpenSecrets.org.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Wednesday that Nunn's campaign said it would follow the pledge only if both Kingston and Perdue agree to do so as well.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) were the first to come to such an agreement. In 2012, they signed a "People's Pledge" to limit political attack ads in their high-spending, high-profile Senate race.

Despite the pledge's success last cycle, Brown rejected a request from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) to make a similar deal as he campaigns in this year's Granite State Senate race.

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Dan Sullivan, one of the Republicans hoping to unseat Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), have also proposed pledges, though both have been rebuffed.

HuffPost Pollster, which combines all publicly available polling data, shows the race is close between Nunn and Perdue as well as Nunn and Kingston.

Samantha Lachman   |   July 9, 2014   11:35 AM ET

Generation Opportunity, a conservative group affiliated with the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, is resorting to more elaborate tactics to dissuade young people from obtaining insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

The group announced that it will be hosting a "Creepy Carenival" July 23 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., "to expose Obamacare for the freak show that it really is."

"It's no secret that Obamacare hasn't lived up to the hype: All across the country premiums have spiked, millions have lost their insurance and their doctors, and, what's worse, we're continually being sold a bundle of lies about how great Obamacare has been for our generation!" reads an invitation to the fair.

A video promoting the event features a frightening clown in a doctor costume measuring a woman's blood pressure. In a nod to the fact that insurance pools depend on a diversity of participants from different age groups, the woman then falls into a dunk tank labeled "high-risk pool."

Generation Opportunity's "creepy Uncle Sam," who is better known for showing up between the stirrups in gynecological exams, also makes an appearance in the video.

The group promises that the Obamacarenival will have "attractions" such as tightrope walkers, aerialists, jugglers, magicians and a "creepy hospital." It alludes to the possibility that the carnival is the first in a fall tour, so the group may host more events closer to Halloween and November's general election.

The Obamacarenival represents the Virginia-based group's latest tactic in a string of attention-grabbing moves. The group's "brand ambassadors" visited college campuses last fall, hosting events at football tailgate parties to encourage students to opt out of the exchanges (and therefore pay the corresponding penalty).

The group has also run television ads targeting Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) over their support for the health care law.

Alex Lazar   |   July 8, 2014    2:38 PM ET

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said in a Tuesday interview with The Washington Post that he may run for president in 2016.

“I’m not particularly eager to do it myself, and having been involved in six presidential campaigns, I know what it’s like,” Portman said in the interview. “But if nobody running is able to win and willing to address these issues, then I might have a change of heart.”

“Let’s see what happens, let’s see who runs,” Portman continued. “For the moment, I’m up for reelection in Ohio, so that’s my plan.”

Portman also opined on the challenges facing the GOP in 2016.

“To win a national election, we’ve got to work on fixing the Republican brand, and that’s what I’ve been working on,” Portman said. “We’ve got to be the party of ideas, not the party of no ... The Democrats have successfully mischaracterized Republicans in many instances, and that’s why Mitt Romney had a tough time winning Ohio. They called him a plutocrat without compassion.”

Portman, who was a little more reticent about his 2016 prospects in a March radio interview, was almost chosen as Mitt Romney's 2012 GOP vice presidential running mate before the former Massachusetts governor finally settled on Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

The interview comes as the GOP chose Cleveland as its host city for the 2016 Republican National Convention on Tuesday.

Portman previously held posts in both Bush administrations and served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 2005.

Samantha Lachman   |   July 8, 2014   12:21 PM ET

A Republican congresswoman is seeking to capitalize on a rarely promoted quality: that she has worked with Democrats while serving in the House of Representatives.

Rep. Jackie Walorski (Ind.), who is running for a second term, has local Hoosiers give testimonials about her bipartisan record in her campaign's first television spot.

“She stood up to her own party and supported the Violence Against Women Act,” Carrie Zickefoose, a victims' advocate, says in the ad, referring to Republican opposition in the House to the Senate bill's expanded protections for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, Native Americans and undocumented immigrants.

"She promised to work across party lines to get things done," a local voter explains, while another chimes in, saying, "Jackie worked with Democrats to get us cheaper propane."

The ad doesn't explicitly mention that Walorski is a Republican.

Walorski's campaign may have made the calculation that the 2nd District's voters appreciate a certain amount of political moderation: Though former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried the district by 14 points in 2012, President Barack Obama beat out Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) there in 2008.

National Democrats have Walorski's district on their radar with Notre Dame instructor Joe Bock, the Democratic nominee.

Sam Levine   |   July 7, 2014    5:28 PM ET

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) defended his decision not to meet with the families of the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School before vetoing gun control legislation last week, saying during a press conference Monday that there was nothing they could have said to change his mind.

Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden, two parents whose children were killed at Sandy Hook in 2012, delivered a petition with over 55,000 signatures in support of a bill that would have banned a magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The parents requested a meeting with Christie to discuss the issue but were told that Christie was unavailable, according to The Star-Ledger.

An hour later, the governor sent the bill back to the legislature but stripped the magazine requirement.

In his first public statement since vetoing the legislation last week, Christie said that such a meeting would have been useless because he had already made up his mind on the issue, according to The Star-Ledger.

“I already signed it,” Christie said at a press conference Monday. “It would have been really hypocritical for me to sit down and act like I was listening to their arguments, again, when in fact I already signed the conditional veto.”

After he vetoed the legislation last week, Christie called it “reform in name only,” and said it was part of “an attempt to drive an emotional, political agenda.” In place of the reduced magazine limit, Christie proposed a host of measures to improve New Jersey’s mental health system.

“Are we saying then that the 10 children on the clip that they advocate for, that their lives are less valuable?” Christie said Monday. “If you take the logical conclusion of their argument, you go to zero, because every life is valuable.”

In a statement after Christie sent the bill back to the legislature, Hockley and Barden said that Christie’s refusal to meet with them was a “cowardly political move.”

“We know that smaller magazines would have saved more lives at Sandy Hook Elementary, possibly even the lives of our own children,” they said. "If Governor Christie wishes to dodge a true veto of this bill, then we respectfully ask that he does that by meeting with us and telling us to our faces that it wouldn't have protected our own children and won't save the lives of New Jersey children. We doubt he has the courage to face us."

Samantha Lachman   |   July 2, 2014    3:15 PM ET

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) says she isn't running for president, but her rhetoric is still being heard on the campaign trail. On Monday, Hillary Clinton appeared at the Aspen Ideas Festival and channeled the Massachusetts populist.

Warren's basic message has two layers. The first is that the "system is rigged" against the middle class, a refrain that nearly made it into the title of her recent book before she went with the slightly more optimistic Fighting Chance. The system is controlled by and for the benefit of the elites, she argues, who write rules to tilt the game in their favor. That analysis flows from Warren's academic work, but it can be self-defeating when applied to the political realm -- accepting the argument's logic leads to the conclusion that engaging in the game at all is a waste of time. Indeed, millions of nonvoters do just that each election day, expressing a disdain with the system by not bothering to show up.

That leads to the second layer of Warren's analysis: that if the government can deliver for the people in a concrete way, the people will re-engage with a system they feel they have a stake in. Warren put the idea into practice. After ushering in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, she won a Senate seat from grateful voters.

Clinton, interviewed by Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson, latched on to the rhetoric about the game being rigged, and also about the disengagement that comes when people recognize it as such.

"‘We have to do a better job of getting our economy growing again and producing results and renewing the American Dream so Americans feel they have a stake in the future, and that the economy and political system is not stacked against them," Clinton said at the event Monday. She added that Americans "feel like they’re falling behind, at best maybe they’re running in place, they don’t think the economy has recovered in a way that helps them or their families."

While Warren has neither embraced nor rejected the concept of a presidential bid, Clinton has been openly mulling what it would mean to run for president again as she promotes her new book, Hard Choices.

Clinton's discussion of income inequality comes amid a series of gaffes related to her and her husband's wealth, which triggered charges that she is out of touch with the struggles middle-class Americans face.

Watch a juxtaposition of Warren and Clinton above.

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Tom Cotton Impugns Mark Pryor's Faith, But Once Defended It

Michael McAuliff   |   July 2, 2014    1:24 PM ET

The campaign of Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) is demanding an apology from his challenger, Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who questioned the sincerity of Pryor's religious faith in a radio interview about this week's Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case.

The court ruled Monday that the craft store chain did not have to pay for insurance for several types of contraception for women, which many on the right hailed as a victory for religious liberty. Pryor said that he understood the religious inspiration for the suit, but that he thought families should be able to make their own health care decisions.

Asked about the ruling by local news station KNWA on Tuesday, Cotton didn't just praise the decision; he went on to question whether Pryor and President Barack Obama actually have faith.

"Barack Obama and Mark Pryor think that faith is something that only happens at 11 o'clock on Sunday mornings," Cotton said. "That's when we worship, but faith is what we live every single day," he added, suggesting that Pryor doesn't do the same.

Pryor's campaign fired off a statement Wednesday saying the senator "has always been open about his personal faith and has served as four-time co-chair of the National Prayer Breakfast."

"I'm disappointed in Congressman Cotton's deeply personal attack on me," Pryor said in the release. "He and I may disagree on issues, but for him to question my faith is out of bounds. From a young age I have never shied away from talking about the importance of God in my life, and it's my Christian faith that gives me comfort and guidance to be a steady voice for Arkansas in the Senate."

Cotton's remarks seemed odd since his campaign had defended Pryor's religious sincerity only last December, when the National Republican Senatorial Committee impugned the senator's faith.

NRSC spokesman Brad Dayspring had taken issue with a Pryor ad in which the senator said the Bible was his "north star." Dayspring found that hypocritical because Pryor had once said the Bible is "really not a rulebook for political issues."

"So is the Bible Mark Pryor's compass, providing the 'comfort and guidance to do what's best for Arkansas'? Or is it really not a good rule book for political issues and decisions made in the Senate?" Dayspring emailed reporters. "Guess it depends on which Mark Pryor that you ask."

At the time, Cotton spokesman David Ray responded by slamming Dayspring's attack, suggesting religion was out of bounds.

"That is an incredibly bizarre and offensive email from the NRSC's press secretary," Ray told The Hill. "We should all agree that America is better off when all our public officials in both parties have the humility to seek guidance from God."

Asked about the apparent flip-flop this week, Ray emailed a fresh statement from Cotton in which the congressman said that Pryor is "a man of faith," but suggested that faith isn't necessarily the same as the religious beliefs of his fellow Arkansans.

"Senator Pryor is a man of faith and practices it with commendable openness, which I respect, but I wish he would respect Arkansans' right to practice our faith," Cotton said. "Instead, Senator Pryor and President Obama still defend Obamacare even after the Supreme Court said it violated freedom of religion. Senator Pryor supports taxpayer-funded abortion and late-term abortion and would force Christians to pay for abortions despite their deeply held religious beliefs. That's a real attack on faith."

Pryor's campaign also noted that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) was among those defending Pryor in December.

"I would never question at all Mark Pryor's faith," Huckabee said on his radio show back then. "I happen to know firsthand from my conversations with him that his faith is very real. He's very committed as a Christian believer. He believes the Bible. I just, I'm not going to say anything disparaging about Mark because it would be unfair."

Watch Cotton's remarks above.

Samantha Lachman   |   July 2, 2014   10:32 AM ET

Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who lost a GOP primary runoff to Sen. Thad Cochran, has done anything but accept the election results.

On Wednesday, McDaniel sent a fundraising email to supporters in which he claims Cochran "stole" the election. McDaniel's campaign says it has found "thousands of irregularities," such as people who may have illegally voted in both the Democratic primary June 3 and the Republican runoff June 24. The email continues:

We have a long fight ahead of us. I know exactly how long and frustrating court battles can be, but I believe this will be worth it. There is too much at stake to back down from this fight.

The problem is that court cases are expensive, and we don’t currently have the resources to mount the legal challenge that this case deserves. Please, take a moment to contribute to the Election Challenge Fund to help me contest this corrupt election.

I’ve seen conservative from around the country come together because you believe in my conservative principles, and I’m counting on you again to help make sure that a fair election took place last week. Can you donate $50 to make sure that I can mount a legal challenge against last week’s shameful election?

Cochran won the runoff by almost 6,800 votes, in part by expanding the electorate beyond those voters who typically cast ballots in Republican primaries.

McDaniel spokesman Noel Fritsch said Tuesday that the campaign's exact strategy had yet to be decided.

"We haven't determined our specific legal recourse," Fritsch said. "We're kind of in a holding pattern, to a certain degree, while we're collecting evidence."

Fritsch told The Associated Press that the campaign had dispatched representatives to many of the state's counties to root out evidence of chicanery.

The runoff, however, hasn't been marked only by accusations of illegal crossover voting. A conservative blogger is accusing Cochran's campaign of buying votes for $15 each. A Cochran campaign spokesman has called the claims "baseless and false."

Democrats are hopeful that their nominee, former Rep. Travis Childers, will be able to capitalize on the drawn-out nature of the Republican primary.

Samantha Lachman   |   July 1, 2014    6:30 PM ET

Kentucky Secretary of State and Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes appears to be playing it safe on marriage equality in the wake of a federal judge's ruling that the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

When asked to comment about the judge's Tuesday decision striking down the ban, Grimes seemed both supportive and apprehensive about marriage equality.

"While I don't believe any church should be forced to recognize anything that is inconsistent with their teachings, my husband and I have been married for seven years, and I believe others should have the opportunity to make that same commitment," an emailed statement from Grimes read.

Grimes' campaign issued a virtually identical statement in February when the same federal judge ruled that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

This isn't the first time Grimes has seemed reluctant to discuss the issue: In August, soon after she announced her candidacy, she declined to express her views on marriage equality in an interview with Politico.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whom Grimes is attempting to unseat, opposed the February ruling.

"I will continue to support traditional marriage and fight to make sure that Kentuckians define marriage as we see fit and never have a definition forced on us by interests outside of our state," McConnell said. He defended the now-endangered state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, saying "only the people of Kentucky, through the legislative process, should have the authority to change the law, not the courts."

Tuesday's ruling legalizing same-sex marriages in Kentucky was put on hold, as Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) presses on to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.

Democratic Senator And Iraq Veteran Cautions Obama On Iraq Troops

Michael McAuliff   |   July 1, 2014    4:18 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- The Senate's only Iraq war veteran, Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.), cautioned President Barack Obama on Tuesday over "mission creep" in Iraq after the administration announced it was committing another 200 U.S. troops to the beleaguered country.

The White House's latest announcement that U.S. forces were being deployed to help secure the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the nearby airport raises the number of Americans heading for Iraq to 775.

“A continued escalation of U.S. commitment in Iraq is troubling," Walsh said in a statement.

"The president has promised to prevent ‘mission creep.' But how many Americans will we deploy? How much money will we spend?" asked Walsh, who was awarded the Bronze Star during his service in Iraq and was eventually elevated to the rank of brigadier general.

"How long until we demand the Iraqi people stand up and defend their own government? Montanans deserve transparency and answers," Walsh said.

Walsh, who is facing a tough election battle, was appointed to the Senate after Obama named former Democratic Sen. Max Baucus to be the U.S. ambassador to China.

Walsh is not the first Democrat to raise concerns about sending U.S. forces back to a country that is increasingly riven by sectarian fighting, with the Sunni-led, terrorist-linked ISIS -- the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham -- capturing large swathes of ground from the Shiite-led government forces.

Before Congress departed for the Fourth of July break, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) -- another centrist Democrat and a close Obama ally who was the president's first chairman of the Democratic Party -- took to the Senate floor to warn Obama that he has a responsibility to come back to Congress for approval if he intends to take more significant military action in Iraq.

"I do not believe that this president or any president has the ability, without Congressional approval, to initiate military action in Iraq or anywhere else, except in the case of an emergency posing an imminent threat to the U.S. or its citizens," Kaine said. "And I also assert that the current crisis in Iraq, while serious and posing the possibility of a long-term threat to the United States, is not the kind of conflict where the president can or should act unilaterally."

At the time, Obama had committed some 300 troops.

The objections of two moderate Democrats, including a decorated veteran of Iraq, could signal trouble for the White House should the president conclude a more robust response is required in Iraq.

Samantha Lachman   |   July 1, 2014    3:57 PM ET

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) is facing questions over his decision to repeatedly meet with activists who have ties to a group the FBI and Maine law enforcement consider a domestic terrorist organization.

Talking Points Memo published on Monday an excerpt from author Mike Tipping's new book, in which he details how LePage engaged with members of the Constitutional Coalition, which is affiliated with the Sovereign Citizen movement. Members of the organization believe the government is planning an attack on Christian Americans by collecting firearms, that it runs mind-control operations and that it was behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

LePage reportedly met with members of the group eight times from January through September of 2013.

Tipping, who works for the Maine People’s Alliance, a progressive advocacy group, wrote that when the coalition's members met with LePage they discussed arresting and executing state House Speaker Mark Eves (D) and Senate President Justin Alfond (D) for treason and violating the U.S. Constitution.

LePage's press secretary, Adrienne Bennett, told the Bangor Daily News Monday that the governor has met with “hundreds of Mainers hearing thousands of ideas, concerns and suggestions," and “hearing those ideas during constituent meetings does not translate to the governor endorsing the ideas of others.”

LePage, for his part, denied the contention that he participated in a discussion of executing Maine's Democratic legislative leaders.

“None of this stuff ever happened,” LePage told the paper, saying that he talked with the group about the U.S. and Maine constitutions. “I listened and listened and listened. Some points they were making were reasonable and some were off-the-wall.”

In a February 2013 recording of a radio program called the “Aroostook Watchmen,” the show’s hosts discuss meeting with LePage and talking with him about how hanging would be the punishment for high treason, which they believed the Democrats had committed.

HuffPost Pollster, which combines all publicly available polling data, shows a close race between LePage and one of his general election opponents, Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine). Democrats may be hopeful that the controversy over why LePage met with the group could endanger his re-election odds in November.