At a town hall meeting in Freeport Tuesday night, members of a standing-room-only crowd yelled at Gov. Paul LePage after he said asylum seekers are the biggest problem in Maine.
“Asylum seekers — I think the biggest problem in our state — and I’ll explain that to you,” he says.
“Shame. Shame,” the crowd responded.
LePage said asylum seekers don’t get medical assessments and can bring foreign diseases to Maine.
“And what happens is you get hepatitis C, tuberculosis, AIDS, HIV, the ‘ziki fly,’ (sic) all these other foreign type of diseases that find a way to our land,” he says.
LePage told a packed audience that the top issues facing the state are the income tax, the cost of energy, welfare reform, student debt and the heroin epidemic.
He drew both jeers and applause, including to his response to Freeport Democratic Rep. Sara Gideon when she talked about the loss of paper industry jobs and asked LePage how they could work together to create jobs. LePage told Gideon to limit regulations.
“And the other thing I would invite you to do if you should ever become speaker, which I hope not,” LePage says to applause and boos. “We’re on opposite sides. I don’t mean that as her as an individual — I mean her as a Democrat.”
After the meeting, Gideon said she didn’t take the remark personally and that LePage is probably worried that Democrats will keep the majority in the House of Representatives. But she did say the governor’s remarks about asylum seekers were “not OK” and applauded members of the crowd for responding.