Maine’s Tea Party Gov. to NAACP: ‘Kiss My Butt’ You ‘Special Interest’ Group

January 15, 2011

(ChattahBox Political News)— Maine’s newly elected Republican Governor Paul LePage, swept into office in November’s tea party wave, is the poster boy for coarse and vitriolic political rhetoric. You can call LePage, a former mayor of the hard scrabble blue-collar city of Waterville, classless, or just not ready for prime time, but in either case the results are the same–so far, Maine’s tea party governor has proved to be a national embarrassment to Mainers. What has the  former manager of a surplus store done now? He insulted and denigrated the NAACP, its members and its policies, during the celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday. LePage not only sneeringly attacked the NAACP as an unworthy “special interest” group. But he also brushed off any criticisms of racial insensitivity by holding up his adopted black son as a shield against his race-related policies. And when asked by reporters to explain his snub of the NAACP’s MLK events, LePage responded, they could “kiss my butt.” Very nice Governor. You must make Maine proud. Do Maine voters have buyer’s remorse yet?

LePage made his intemperate remarks on camera when being questioned by reporters to respond to complaints made by the local chapters of the NAACP that he was snubbing them.

“Asked to respond Friday, Mr. LePage – who gained a reputation for combativeness on the campaign trail – said he merely had scheduling conflicts. He also said the N.A.A.C.P. officials should “look at my family picture,” pointing out his adopted son.”

“My son happens to be black, so they can do whatever they’d like about it,” he told a reporter for WGME. “The fact of the matter is there’s only so many hours in a day, so many hours in a week, and so much that you can do.”

“When the reporter asked Mr. LePage to respond to the suggestion that he had a pattern of slighting the N.A.A.C.P., he said, “Tell them to kiss my butt,” adding, “If they want to play the race card, come to dinner. My son will talk to them.”

During the exchange, LePage also attacked the NAACP, one of the oldest civil rights organizations that has battled racial inequality and discrimination for over 100-years, as some fringe special interest group.

“They are a special interest. End of story … and I’m not going to be held hostage by special interests,” LePage said, according to local station WCSH.

Worse, LePage apparently made up a race-baiting excuse for not attending a NAACP event. He told reporters he refused to attend a prison visit because the NAACP restricted it to black prisoners only.

“The NAACP had invited the governor to visit black inmates at a Maine prison, according to CNN. LePage reportedly contends that the organization was upset he insisted on meeting with white prisoners as well.”

If LePage’s “blacks only” prisoner visit excuse sounds a little fishy, it’s because it’s not true, according to WCSH.

“LePage said he would have attended the forum if he would have been able to meet with all prisoners. But Rachel Talbot Ross, president of Portland’s chapter of the NAACP told NEWS CENTER that the invitation, which went out to all candidates, did not specify the race of the prisoners. She went on to say, “We would not be allowed to have that kind of program at the Maine State Prison.” [...]

“Denise Lord, associate commissioner in the Department of Corrections, tells NEWS CENTER that she is not familiar with this specific invitation, but that she would be surprised if the prison had allowed an event that was only for black inmates.”

So, there you go, after responding to a NAACP invitation to honor MLK, by telling Maine’s minority community to “kiss my butt,” LePage also trotted out a favorite tea party trope, suggesting that blacks are racists against whites.

LePage’s spokesman later issued a statement, doubling down on the tea party governor’s “special interest” knock.

“Mr. LePage’s spokesman, Dan Demeritt, later released a statement reiterating that the governor’s decision not to attend the events on Monday was not about race. “This is about a special interest group taking issue with the governor for not making time for them,” the statement said, “and the governor dismissing their complaints in the direct manner people have come to expect from Paul LePage.”

This is not the first time LePage has raised eyebrows with his classless rhetoric. During the gubernatorial campaign LePage told a group of Maine fishermen that President Obama could go to hell.

“And as your governor, you’re gonna be seeing a lot of me on the front page saying ‘Gov. LePage tells Obama to go to hell,’” he said back in September.

Mainers elected LePage to office despite his incendiary tea party rhetoric, and now they must deal with the consequences.

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