December 2, 2010

LePage to say hello to Obama today

The governor-elect regrets his 'go to hell' remark from the campaign, but says his position hasn't changed.

By DAVID SHARP The Associated Press

Gov.-elect Paul LePage, who made headlines with his "go to hell" remark aimed at President Obama, said he's looking forward to meeting his commander in chief today. But he hasn't changed his message about what he describes as burdensome federal regulations that stymie job growth.

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South Carolina Gov.-elect Nikki Haley, second from left, is seated with Vice President Joe Biden, left, and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, third left, as President Barack Obama speaks to newly elected governors during a luncheon at the Blair House in Washington today.

AP

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Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., second from right, speaks as Ohio Gov.-elect John Kasich, left, stands with South Carolina Gov.-elect Nikki Haley, Maine Gov.-elect Paul LePage, Oklahoma Gov.-elect Mary Fallin, and House Speaker-designate John Boehner, R-Ohio, right, listen after their meeting on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

AP

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LePage, who won a five-way race on Nov. 2 with support from the tea party, will join other governors-elect in Washington to meet with Obama and discuss homeland security. LePage said he looks forward to talking to Obama. The White House has scheduled the meeting for 1 p.m. today.

If he gets the opportunity, he said, he'll do a better job of explaining himself than he did in September at a GOP forum attended by fishermen in the coastal town of Brooksville.

LePage had an emphatic response for fishermen who complained that federal regulations were threatening their livelihoods. "As your governor, you're going to be seeing a lot of me on the front page, saying 'Governor LePage tells Obama to go to hell,'" he said, to applause.

LePage said he regretted his language, but he remains concerned about federal bureaucrats imposing regulations that put people out of work.

"Do not come to Maine and put our people out of work through federal policy," LePage said before leaving Wednesday for Washington, D.C. "That's what prompted that whole comment. They're docking our boats and not letting them go fish. And I have a problem with that."

LePage has promised to cut red tape and rules and regulations that he views as impediments to economic development and job creation.

LePage and more than a dozen other Republican governors-elect were to meet Wednesday evening with incoming House Speaker John Boehner to talk about the economy, government spending and efforts to create jobs. Also on the agenda was a sore subject for many Republicans: the health care overhaul.

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