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Maine CD-1 Republican candidate apologizes for 'rape' comment made during lobstermen rally

Ed Thelander, who is looking to unseat Rep. Chellie Pingree, walked back his statement in a Maine Public debate Wednesday night.

PORTLAND, Maine — Republican candidate for Maine's first Congressional District Ed Thelander is apologizing for statements he made at a Maine lobstermen's rally on Wednesday. 

"NOAA wants to rape you and your family, and they're saying pick a child," Thelander said during the rally. 

On Wednesday evening, Thelander walked back his remarks during the first debate between him and incumbent Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree on Maine Public, saying his passion got the best of him. 

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"My comments were over the top, and I apologize for that. I'm very passionate about it. I mean, I love those families," Thelander said during the debate. "I've been in and around them since we moved to Maine, and I've been working with them for the past 14 months more so. And I'm seeing the struggles they have. I'm seeing that nothing's been done."

Pingree addressed Thelander's comments in response. 

"If lobster fishing were to dry up, that's the elementary school that my kids went to. That's the school that my grandchildren go to. That's the restaurant that my family runs, that's the store, that's the church, that's the minister. I know all about how deeply this will impact my community," Pingree said. "So, don't say I'm not passionate about it. I used the right language, and I appreciate your apology. I think that was a very good thing to do."

RELATED: Maine lobstermen call on state to file suit against NOAA

Both candidates will face off in our NEWS CENTER Maine Voice of the Voter forum at 7 p.m. Oct. 19. 

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