Republican gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage’s campaign said Thursday that he was joking when he said he was about ready to punch a radio reporter.

In a video, LePage is chatting with MPBN’s Jennifer Rooks, host of Maine Watch, in a Tuesday taping.

She mentions that two MPBN radio reporters, A.J. Higgins and Susan Sharon, want to talk with him.

LePage replied he didn’t want to talk to either of them. Rooks said they’d find him after her interview with him, and LePage said, with s slight smile on his face, “I’m about ready to punch A.J. Higgins.”

“Don’t punch him!” Rooks said.

“Aw, come on!” LePage replied, still smiling.

LePage campaign manager John Morris said Thursday “it was clearly a joke, and A.J. acknowledges that.”

Higgins said he didn’t think LePage was jesting when he said that he didn’t want to talk with the radio reporters. But when he mentioned punching him, Higgins said, LePage had a “half-smile.”

“He says he was joking, so I’m going to accept him at his word,” said Higgins. “Beyond that we’ve got work to do here, so let’s move on.”

To see the video, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0G3MCN8joLc.