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Politics

LePage Draws National Criticism for 'Disgusting, Racist' Remarks

BRIDGTON, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage is drawing fire for remarks he made while discussing the state's opiate epidemic during a town hall meeting here Wednesday night.

The governor said drug traffickers are coming up from states like New York and Connecticut to sell heroin.

"These are guys that are named, D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty," LePage says. "Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue that we gotta deal with down the road."

Republican activist Lance Dutson, who runs the website Get Maine Right, called the remark "one of the most offensive statements yet from this Governor." His group seeks to restore "relevance, reason and respect" to the GOP.

In a news release, Michael Tyler, the Democratic National Committee's director of African-American media, called the governor's comments "disgusting, racist" and "the worst form of conservative politics — one that plays to the darkest elements of the Republican Party's base."

Tyler urged New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to renounce LePage's endorsement of his presidential campaign.

Speaking for himself and not on behalf of his organization, Michael Alpert, president of the Bangor chapter of the NAACP, said the governor's remarks were "foolish."

"That would be the most polite way of responding to them, that they're just foolish," he says. "It's the kind of stereotyping that characterized the United States decades and decades ago. You know, people don't make those kinds of racist remarks anymore."

LePage's chief of communications, Peter Steele, said in a written statement that his boss wasn't talking about race when he made the remarks.

"Race is irrelevant," Steele wrote. "What is relevant is the cost to state taxpayers for welfare and the emotional costs for these kids who are born as a result of involvement with drug traffickers. His heart goes out to these kids because he had a difficult childhood, too. We need to stop the drug traffickers from coming into our state."

LePage has previously made headlines for telling the Portland chapter of the NAACP to "kiss my butt," telling President Obama to "go to hell" and making a sexual remark about a Democratic state senator.