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Maine governor blames media for racially charged rant

By Ann Marie Awad   |   Jan. 9, 2016 at 5:58 PM

BRIDGTON, Maine, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- Maine Gov. Paul LePage accused the press of twisting his words when he railed against heroin dealers who he claims come to Maine and impregnate white women.

Less than 48 hours after he made the remarks at a town hall meeting, the Republican governor held a press conference Friday issuing something of a non-apology.

"I made one slip-up," LePage said. "I may have made many slip-ups. I was going impromptu in my brain, didn't catch up to my mouth. Instead of saying, 'Maine women,' I said, 'White women.' I'm not going to apologize to the Maine women for that because if you go to Maine you will see we are essentially 95 percent white."

Clarifying later, he said: "If I slipped up and used the wrong word, then I apologize to all the Maine women."

Then, LePage told reporters: "Yous don't like me and I don't like you," referencing a line from the movie Rocky.

"You're in the back pocket of Maine bloggers," LePage said, referring to Get Right Maine, the site that first reported his remarks. It's run by Lance Dutson, a Republican operative.

The initial remarks came Wednesday evening during a town hall meeting. LePage was asked what he was doing to combat Maine's drug issues.

"These aren't the people who take drugs," he responded."These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty. These type of guys. They come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, then they go back home. 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've got to deal with down the road."

The Portland Press Herald was the first outlet to pick up the remarks, which later garnered national attention.

LePage -- who CNN reports has been controversial for years -- adamantly denied racist connotations Friday.

"What're they, black?" he told reporters. "I don't know if they're White, Black, Asian, I don't know,"

The day before, Peter Steele, LePage's spokesman, denied allegations of racism:

"The governor is not making comments about race. Race is irrelevant. What is relevant is the cost to state taxpayers for welfare and the emotional costs for these kids who are born as a result of involvement with drug traffickers. His heart goes out to these kids because he had a difficult childhood too. We need to stop the drug traffickers from coming into our state."

Politico reported Hillary Clinton condemned the remarks as "racist rants."

LaPage was the first major elected official to endorse New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's presidential bid. Despite the remarks, Christie told MSNBC on Saturday that he stands behind LaPage.

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