Wednesday, December 11, 2013
AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage said Friday that he's sorry if anyone was offended by his crude sexual remark a day earlier about a Democratic leader in the state Senate.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, 2nd District, left, last week launched an exploratory committee for a gubernatorial run, sparking interest by Republican Gov. Paul LePage in a potential run for Michaud's congressional seat.
The Republican governor, in impromptu comments to reporters outside his office, also said he is considering abandoning his re-election bid in 2014 and running instead for Congress.
In his statement to reporters, LePage apologized in particular to Maine loggers, some of whom were outraged by statements he made Thursday about Sen. Troy Jackson, a logger from Allagash who is the Senate's assistant majority leader.
"It was never my intent to ever, ever suggest that the loggers of the state of Maine are in the same league as Troy Jackson," LePage said. "I owe that apology."
Jackson came under fire from LePage on Thursday after he said that Democrats would not accept the governor's latest state budget proposal, and that they probably had enough votes to override his threatened veto of the $6.3 billion, two-year budget that lawmakers passed last week.
When a reporter from WMTW-TV asked LePage about Jackson's statement, the governor said Jackson "has no brains" and "he has a black heart."
He also said, "Sen. Jackson claims to be for the people, but he's the first one to give it to the people of Maine without providing Vaseline."
Later in the interview, LePage said, "People like Troy Jackson, they ought to go back in the woods and cut trees and let somebody with a brain come down here and do some work."
The governor's comments made news around the nation, on television, in newspapers and on social media, prompting defenders to describe him as a plainspoken man who "tells it like it is" while critics blasted him for crossing the lines of decency and civility.
When a reporter asked him Friday about a general apology to Maine people for what many considered a vulgar comment, LePage paused and said: "You know what's vulgar? A senator saying we don't care what the governor does. We have the votes to override him. I find that enormously vulgar. I find that despicable."
LePage then said he apologizes if anyone was offended by his statement.
"It was not meant to offend anybody," he said. "But I will say this. It was intended to wake the people of Maine up."
He then referred to the state's tax burden and how it would be affected by the budget.
The governor's remark about a congressional run echoes a rumor that circulated at the State House this week. His interest has been sparked by last week's announcement by Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud that he's considering running for governor in 2014.
LePage said he may run for Michaud's seat in the 2nd Congressional District.
Michaud launched an exploratory committee last week for a gubernatorial run. He has been soliciting donations ever since.
"I'm considering running for Mike Michaud's seat, if you want to know the truth, because it can't be any worse in Washington than it is here," LePage said Friday. "Everything's on the table. Retirement, Social Security, running for Congress, maybe going back to Marden's to stock shelves. Who knows? I don't take myself as seriously as all you do."
Brent Littlefield, LePage's political adviser, said Wednesday that he was "1,000 percent unaware" of the governor's interest in the 2nd Congressional District seat.
Littlefield has been working on LePage's re-election bid. He has been LePage's adviser since his 2010 gubernatorial campaign and remains involved in Maine People Before Politics, a political group that backs the governor. He has also run congressional campaigns in other states.
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