AUGUSTA — Paul LePage, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, apologized to Libby Mitchell, his Democratic opponent, this morning on the George Hale/Ric Tyler show on WVOM for a joke he made over the weekend about Mitchell’s age.

“If Elizabeth is offended by it, my deepest apologies, because it was certainly never meant to offend her,” LePage said on air. “She’s worked very hard and she’s had a good career and I just think that the issues should be brought up. My differences with Elizabeth Mitchell is on the policies.”

LePage, 61, had made a joke about the fact that Mitchell had just turned 70 during a campaign and fundraising stop in Bath on Saturday. The comment upset members of the Maine chapter of the AARP.

On Tuesday morning, in an on-air conversation with Hale, LePage admitted to making the joke while criticizing media coverage of the comment.

“The fact of the matter is, yes, I made a joke about being 70, and then I went on to say she that she is a very formidable candidate,” LePage said of comments he made during a follow-up interview with a Maine Public Broadcasting Network reporter.

He complained that the MPBN reporter did not include his compliments to Mitchell in her coverage.

In an MPBN transcript of the follow-up interview provided to the Kennebec Journal, LePage said he did not think age should be a campaign issue. The transcript did not show comments from him praising Mitchell as a candidate.

Hale said this type of thing happens a lot in political campaigns.

“How do we keep this above board, how do we keep this straight?” Hale asked.

“Well, from now on, what I am going to do is, I’m not going to make any comments to reporters unless it’s in writing,” LePage said.

Hale asked, “Really?”

“Yeah,” LePage said. “Because they won’t report what you say, they just report the spin that they want to put on it.”