January 15, 2011

LePage to NAACP: 'Kiss my butt'

The governor calls the group 'a special interest' as he balks at Martin Luther King Jr. Day events

By Susan M. Cover scover@mainetoday.com
State House Bureau

(Continued from page 1)

20110105_LePage
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Gov. Paul LePage

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Rachel Talbot Ross

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After LePage’s comments in Sanford, his spokesman, Dan Demeritt, released a statement saying race was not the issue.

Demeritt also said that while LePage was mayor of Waterville, he attended or gave remarks at several Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfasts at the Muskie Center.

“This is not about race. Paul has a black son,” Demeritt wrote. “This is about a special-interest group taking issue with the governor for not making time for them and the governor dismissing their complaints in the direct manner people have come to expect from Paul LePage.”

LePage has personal commitments Sunday and will attend the funeral of a state trooper Monday, Demeritt said.

In an interview, Demeritt said LePage will not attend nearly as many ceremonial events as past governors but will focus more on managing state government.

Demeritt said it’s unusual for a governor to use the term “kiss my butt,” but it’s part of the way LePage communicates.

“He’s very free-spoken,” Demeritt said. “He’s got a directness about him that a lot of people find appealing.”

Demeritt also released the text of LePage’s pre-recorded weekly radio address a day early because it focuses on the Monday holiday honoring King and last week’s shooting in Arizona that took the lives of six people and injured more than a dozen others, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

“Dr. King is someone who spent and ultimately gave his life making sure that people got a fair shake regardless of race,” the radio address reads.

Portland Press Herald Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan M. Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at:

scover@mainetoday.com

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