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Political Brew: Analysts debate January 6 hearing, guns, and more

NEWS CENTER Maine's Don Carrigan spoke to GOP analyst Phil Harriman and Democratic analyst Betsy Sweet for Political Brew on Sunday, June 12.

PORTLAND, Maine — After a week where news reports were dominated by guns, gas prices, and the January 6 investigation, it's no surprise those same topics inspired lots of comment on Political Brew.

GOP analyst Phil Harriman and Democratic analyst Betsy Sweet see the initial public hearing by the January 6 committee in very different ways.

Harriman was again critical of the committee because it was formed with no members who supported President Trump. He believes that taints the findings.

“This [hearing] is meant to be more persuasion than fact finding. I’m really disappointed the Speaker has taken this approach. For the first time in U.S. history, the minority party was denied the opportunity to appoint their own members to the investigation," Harriman said, also adding, “Unfortunately, an issue as important as this has turned into a political show, rather than an investigation."

Sweet said she “couldn’t disagree more.”

"I thought what they did [Thursday] night...is showing the factual evidence because we still have a former president saying this never happened. We have Rand Paul saying this was a peaceful demonstration, this is nothing," Sweet said, also adding, "This information and the way they’re showing actual evidence, not their opinion — you have to say this happened.”

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On the other dominant Washington issue of the week — debate over restrictions on access to guns — both agreed change is needed.

“If we have children whose bodies were so blown apart they could not be identified except through DNA, what else will it take to get some action?" asked Sweet.

 “Enough is enough,” Harriman said, “I don’t want to see another story about mass shooting of students and teachers. 

Both said the real solutions are not just difficult to pass — they are difficult to find. Harriman expressed the frustration that is likely felt by millions of Americans.

"The key point is we know what happened, we know how it happened. I want to know why it happened," Harriman said. "What we’ve discovered through these heartbreaking statistics is it tends to be males — 18 years of age, from dysfunctional families who attended the school they shot up, [who] killed a family member beforehand, and [who] posted their intention [online] beforehand. Can't we at least focus in on people of that description, while Congress hopefully comes to a conclusion of what to do on a federal basis?”

Sweet said she thinks Congress should start by requiring someone to be age 21 before buying a semi-automatic firearm.

She also was critical of Rep. Jared Golden, who was one of only two Democrats to vote against a House gun bill last week. Golden stated in a press release that the Democratic bill has no chance of passing the Senate, and therefore was just a political gesture by his party.

Sweet disagreed.

 “I think Jared Golden voting against the basic safety measures, not taking away guns...is a real lack of courage on his part," Sweet said. "Whether or not it's going to pass, we need leaders to step up and create momentum to do something.”

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The two analysts also discussed gasoline prices surging past five dollars per gallon, as well as Maine’s upcoming primary elections and the campaign for Governor. Both said that will ramp up, as soon as the primary is over.

Harriman said the polling he has seen shows the race for Governor between Janet Mills and Paul LePage will be “a dead heat”. Sweet said she thinks there are few undecided voters, saying “we all know Janet Mills, we all know Paul LePage.”

She also expressed hope that the two campaigns will be debated on legitimate issues and won't resort to extensive — and expensive — negative attacks on each other.

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