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Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, during a town hall meeting, Governor Paul LePage (R-Maine) was asked what his administration was doing about the state’s drug problem. According to The Washington Post, he first stated that there was legislation being put into place directed toward drug traffickers, then he tried to explain the reason for this new statute, claiming that the issue was due to an extremely specific demographic from New York and Connecticut. The following is what LePage said to explain the drug trafficking legislation:
“The traffickers – these aren’t people who take drugs. These are guys by the name D-Money, Smoothie, [and] Shifty. These type of guys that come from Connecticut and New York. They come up here, they sell their heroin, then they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave. Which is the real sad thing, because then we have another issue that we have to deal with down the road.”
A spokesman for LePage told the Bangor Daily News that the governor was not referencing race. His point of focus was on the cost to Maine taxpayers for welfare and the emotional struggles of children born in the midst of drug-trafficking. LePage claims he had a difficult childhood and sympathizes with the children.
On the night of the town hall comments, the Maine DEA arrested three people who were trafficking heroin into the state. All three alleged drug traffickers were white. According to The Washington Post, 94 percent of Maine is white.
The Clinton campaign responded to the governor’s comments in a statement that read, “LePage’s rants were racist and distracted people from the true problem of drugs. Additionally, the comments were offensive to Maine women, as well as the implied reference that drug-traffickers were black.”
Regardless, the governor held a press conference on Friday. He apologized by saying, “If I slipped up and used the wrong word, then I apologize to all the Maine women.” LePage then addressed the reporters in an effort to ensure they understood that he did not like them, and he was well aware they did not like him. He accused reporters of being in “the back pockets” of bloggers. He addressed bloggers because the first site to report on the governor’s controversial drug comments was Get Right Maine. The owner of the site is Republican operative Lance Dutson.
LePage has endorsed Chris Christie for president, however, the Democratic party was strongly encouraging Christie to denounce the Maine governor’s comments about race, women, and drugs. According to MSNBC, Christie agrees that the Maine governor’s comments were offensive, but stated he believed LePage’s apology was genuine. Christie will continue to stand by LePage’s side. The attempted apology was followed by comments from the governor about the media twisting his words. He meant to say Maine women, not white girls. He said he would not apologize to Maine women for that statement because, according to the governor, 95 percent of the state is white.
Governor LePage has not been well-liked by the people of Maine for some time. He won both gubernatorial elections by splitting the votes. Taking the governor’s seat with 38 percent of the votes is hardly a win. In 2011, he told members of Maine’s NAACP to “kiss my butt.” However, Christie seems to know a different LePage than his constituents. He has described the controversial governor as honorable, decent, and a man who wears his heart on his sleeve who has an incredible personal story. He ended his comment stating LePage loves Maine. Nevertheless, drugs are not racist, they do not see color, only addiction. White, African-American, Asian, Hispanic, men and women use and traffic drugs. The question remains, how is the LePage administration handling the issue so it comes to an end?
Opinion by Jeanette Smith
The Washington Post: Maine governor says out-of-state drug dealers are impregnating ‘young, white girl[s],’ kind-of apologizes
NBC: Chris Christie Stands Behind Maine Governor Paul LePage After ‘White Girls’ Comments
WDSU: Maine gov sorry for racially charged language
Image Courtesy of Maine Department of Education’s Photostream Flickr Page – Creative Commons License