Maine Governor Skips MLK Day Events, Tells NAACP “Kiss My Butt”
Maine’s new Republican Govenor Paul LePage is getting some national attention, and not in a good way:
Maine’s governor on Friday told a major African American organization to “kiss my butt” after the group complained he wasn’t taking part in Martin Luther King Day events next week.
Paul LePage, a newly elected Republican, is facing criticism from the NAACP for turning down invitations to events marking the MLK holiday on Monday.
“Tell them to kiss my butt,” the governor, who’s been in office two weeks, said in a local TV interview.
The NAACP said earlier this week that LePage had rejected invitations to attend its events while campaigning and since taking office earlier this month.
“We don’t want to misinterpret his intention, but the message we’re getting is that we’re not welcome and we’re not part of the Maine he’s preparing to lead for the next four years,” said Rachel Talbot Ross, state director of the NAACP and president of the NAACP Portland Branch, the Kennebec Journal reported.
It seems odd indeed for a Governor to not participate in any events at all surrounding a national, and state, holiday but I suppose that’s no big deal. LePage’s blunt response, though, strikes me as not being particularly politically smart given that he barely won a plurality in a three-way election last year.
UPDATE (James Joyner): I went searching to see if there was some provocation for this reaction. If so, it’s pretty thin.
“They are a special interest. End of story…and I’m not going to be held hostage by special interests. And if they want, they can look at my family picture. My son happens to be black, so they can do whatever they’d like about it,” said LePage.
LePage has an adopted son who is from Jamaica.
When a reporter from another television station asked LePage if his non-participation is more than one instance, and rather a pattern, he replied, “Tell ’em to kiss my butt. If they want to play the race card, come to dinner and my son will talk to them.”
Dan Demeritt, LePage’s Director of Communications, says the governor has personal commitments on Sunday and he is attending the funeral of a state trooper on Monday.
Demeritt also said as mayor of Waterville, LePage gave the welcome address at the MLK breakfasts in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008.
This isn’t the first time LePage has caused a stir with his comments. During the campaign, while speaking in front of a group of fishermen, then-candidate LePage said if he were elected governor, headlines would read “Governor LePage tells President Obama to go to hell.” At the time LePage said he regretted his choice of words, but stood behind the intent.
Additionally, LePage claimed that the NAACP had invited him to go to the state prison to talk to black prisoners and he told them he’d only go to meet “all prisoners and that wasn’t acceptable to them. So tough luck!” The NAACP rejects that version of events, saying not only did they not specify the race of the prisoners but that “We would not be allowed to have that kind of program at the Maine State Prison.”
All in all, rather creepy.