The Republican governor of Maine — who has a history of bizarre and extreme comments — left a voicemail message filled with profanities and the use of the anti-gay slur “cocksucker” for a political opponent in his state.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage said in the same voicemail he wanted the recipient of the message, State Rep. Drew Gattine, to make the recording public and said, “I’m after you.” The recording was made public by the Portland Press Herald.
“I would like to talk to you about my being a racist, you cocksucker,” LePage said in the message. “I want to talk to you. You want, I want you to prove that I’m a racist. I’ve spent my life helping black people, and you little son-of-bitch, socialist cocksucker.”
In a subsequent 30-minute interview with reporters, LePage said he wished “it were 1825” so he could challenge Gattine to a duel, according to the Portland Press Herald.
“And we would have a duel, that’s how angry I am, and I would not put my gun in the air, I guarantee you, I would not be (Alexander) Hamilton,” LePage is quoted as saying. “I would point it right between his eyes, because he is a snot-nosed little runt and he has not done a damn thing since he’s been in this legislature to help move the state forward.”
In a statement, LePage confirmed he left the voicemail and said it was in response to an accusation of racism from Gattine, which the Maine governor said he takes “very seriously.”
“I didn’t know Drew Gattine from a hole in the wall until yesterday,” LePage said. “It made me enormously angry when a TV reporter asked me for my reaction about Gattine calling me a racist. It is the absolute worst, most vile thing you can call a person. So I called Gattine and used the worst word I could think of. I apologize for that to the people of Maine, but I make no apology for trying to end the drug epidemic that is ravaging our state. Legislators like Gattine would rather be politically correct and protect ruthless drug dealers than work with me to stop this crisis that is killing five Mainers a week.”
LePage in the same statement addressed saying in the voicemail he would go after Gattine and his desire to challenge the lawmaker to a duel.
“When I said I was going after Gattine, I meant I would do everything I could to see that he and his agenda is defeated politically,” LePage said. “I am a history buff, and I referenced how political opponents used to call each other out in the 1820s — including Andrew Jackson, the father of the Democratic Party. Obviously, it is illegal today; it was simply a metaphor and I meant no physical harm to Gattine. But I am calling him out to stop giving inflammatory sound bites and get to work to end this crisis that is killing Mainers, destroying families and creating drug-addicted babies, all so the drug dealers Gattine is protecting can make a profit.”
According to the Portland Press Herald, Gattine has denied calling LePage a racist, but has opposed him on policy matters and called the voicemail upsetting and offensive.
“Obviously that message is upsetting, inappropriate and uncalled for,” Gattine is quoted as saying. “It’s hard to believe it’s from the governor of the state of Maine, but again, we need to stay focused on the drug problem we are facing here in Maine and cannot allow this story to be about the governor’s inappropriate and vulgar behaviors.”
According to the Portland Press Herald, a reporter indeed asked LePage what he would say to people calling him a racist, but the reporter didn’t say Gattine referred to the governor by that term and simply said he spoke to the lawmaker.
LePage, a Tea Party Republican once dubbed by Politico as “America’s craziest governor,” has said drug dealers impregnate white women, blamed undocumented immigrants for raising increased incidents of hepatitis C, tuberculosis and HIV and publicly joked he’d like to find the office of the Portland Press Herald “and blow it up.”
Democrat and former Rep. Michael Michaud, who’s gay, challenged LePage in 2014, but was defeated in a three-way race with independent candidate Eliot Cutler during an election year that was good for Republicans.
TJ Helmstetter, a spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, called on Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to denounce the comments.
“Yesterday, Hillary Clinton made a poignant call for Americans of all political stripes to denounce hatred and for Donald Trump to distance his campaign from hate groups,” Helmstetter said. “The same day, a Republican governor was shouting anti-gay slurs into a political opponent’s voicemail. The Republican Party has a lot of house cleaning to do if it wants to expand its appeal beyond those who find such bigotry acceptable.”