AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage on Friday conceded “many slip- ups” when he said out-of-state drug dealers often impregnate young, white women but hammered the media for focusing on the remarks.
The Republican governor was responding for the first time to comments that came at a Wednesday town hall meeting in Bridgton, where he said men from Connecticut with the names “D-Money,” “Smoothie” and “Shifty” come to Maine to sell heroin and “half the time, they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave.”
The comments gained national attention Thursday evening, with ABC News, Vox, The Daily Beast and the Huffington Post picking up stories on them.
It also made LePage a part of the 2016 presidential race, with Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s campaign denouncing the remarks and the Democratic National Committee calling on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican candidate, to renounce LePage’s endorsement.
On Friday, LePage said he “was going impromptu, and my brain didn’t catch up to my mouth,” but he said the comments weren’t “meant to isolate any one person.”
He said there were words that “could have been better used, but I’m not going to deny or apologize for that,” because “that’s who I am.”
LePage unleashed harsh criticism at the media, noting the story about the comments wasn’t picked up by reporters who were at the Wednesday event but only gained attention after Lance Dutson, a Republican operative who often opposes LePage, flagged the remarks for reporters.
Arguing that the focus on racial implications of his comments deflected attention away from his goal of fighting against Maine’s heroin crisis, LePage said the media “did nothing to help us” achieve his goal of hiring 10 new drug agents earlier this year. He implored the media to focus on the impact of drug addiction in Maine, including domestic violence and children who become endangered or wards of the state.
“My passion and my desire is to rid ourselves of domestic violence and to get drug dealers off the street,” he said.
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