Randy Billings, Portland Press Herald, January 8, 2016
Gov. Paul LePage has drawn widespread condemnation for a racially charged comment he made during one of his regular town hall meetings to promote his policy agenda in Bridgton on Wednesday night.
About 30 minutes into the meeting, which was rebroadcast Thursday night, LePage responded to a question about how he was tackling substance abuse in Maine. He began talking about how much of the heroin is coming into Maine from out-of-state drug dealers.
“These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty–these types of guys–they come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home,” LePage told a large crowd. “Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road.”
LePage’s comments quickly flashed across social media and online news sites around the nation Thursday night, being picked up by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, the Huffington Post, MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” and Buzzfeed, to name a few.
Among those voicing criticism was the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“LePage’s racist rants sadly distract from efforts to address one of our nation’s most pressing problems,” said Hillary for America’s Marlon Marshall in an emailed statement.
LePage is known for his blunt talk and crude comments. He once told the Maine NAACP to “kiss my butt,” and vowed to tell President Obama to “go to hell.” He also accused a Democratic lawmaker of having “no brains” and being “the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline.”
The local access video showed a crowd that appeared to be dominated by LePage supporters, applauding his desire to keep young people in Maine, cut income taxes, eliminate student debt and require able-bodied people to work, rather than receive welfare.
Although some chuckled when LePage recited the names of “D-Money” and the other drug dealers, the room fell quiet and there was little discernible reaction when he finished his remark with the reference to impregnated young white girls.
LePage has been accused of making a racially insensitive comment before. In August 2013, he reportedly told a group at a private function in Belgrade that President Obama “hates white people.” The remark was made at a meet-and-greet with the governor, first lady Ann LePage and Bennett, who had just been selected as party chairman. Two Republican lawmakers, who were not identified, confirmed the remarks to a reporter.
The governor denied making the remark.
[Editor’s Note: Gov. LePage has since said his comments were a “mistake.” “I was going impromptu and my brain didn’t catch up to my mouth,” LePage said. “Instead of Maine women I said white women. . . . If you go to Maine, you can see it’s 95 percent white.”]