Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) lashed out at reporters during a Friday press conference addressing racially charged remarks he made at an event Wednesday night.
LePage held the press conference to defend those remarks, which came after he was asked about the drug problem in his state.
“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 said Wednesday, according to The Portland Press Herald.
“Incidentally,” he added, “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.”
In his Friday press conference, LePage expressed his anger that reporters honed in on “one word” from his more than hour-long event Wednesday. He said he should have instead referred to “Maine” women instead of white women.
“I was going impromptu in my brain, and my brain didn’t catch up to my mouth. Instead of saying ‘Maine women,’ I said ‘white women.’ And I’m not going to apologise to the Maine women for that because if you go to Maine, you will see that, essentially, 95% are white.”
A visibly frustrated LePage then told reporters to “get your heads out of the sand” and focus on helping his administration rid his state of drug dealers and domestic violence. He said more than 400 Maine residents have died due to drugs.
“You’re not helping us,” he said. “You’re not helping us to make it a really major issue.”
Fighting back tears, LePage said he isn’t perfect. If he was, he quipped, he’d be a reporter.
“I’m not like you guys,” he said. “I’m not a polished speaker. But I have a heart. I have a heart for Maine and for Maine people. … And if you want to make it racist, go ahead and do whatever you want.”
He added his original comment only gained traction after a blogger picked it up, telling reporters they were “in the back pocket of Maine bloggers. Shame on you. Shame, shame, shame. I find that appalling.”
“Having said that, I made a mistake, and I’m not perfect,” he said. “But I will not stop correcting myself and bringing the issue at hand drugs, drugs, and more drugs. Beatings, beatings, and more beatings. We have people dying, we have families being destroyed. And we have children that we the state have to take in, and we don’t know what their future is going to be.”
After making a second apology addressed to Maine women, LePage said he didn’t mean to infer that the theoretical drug dealers he mentioned in his original statement — “D-Money,” “Smoothie,” and “Shifty” — were black.
“What’re they? Black? I don’t know who they are, I just read the names,” he said. “I don’t see them cause I don’t read your newspapers. I get a report that says ‘street name: D-Money.’ ‘Street name: Smoothie.’ I don’t know if they’re White, Black, Asian. … I tried to explain that Maine is essentially all white, I should have just said Maine women. Look, I’m not as smart as you guys. I admit I’m not as bright as you people.”
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