Thursday Governor Paul LePage left an angry voice-mail message for one of his Democratic critics and later said he wished he could challenge the man to a duel. From the Portland Herald Press:
Gov. Paul LePage left a state lawmaker from Westbrook an expletive-laden phone message Thursday in which he accused the legislator of calling him a racist, encouraged him to make the message public and said, “I’m after you.”…
LePage later invited a Portland Press Herald reporter and a two-person television crew from WMTW to the Blaine House, where during a 30-minute interview the governor described his anger with [State Rep. Drew] Gattine and others, told them he had left the phone message and said he wished he and the lawmaker could engage in an armed duel to settle the matter.
“When a snot-nosed little guy from Westbrook calls me a racist, now I’d like him to come up here because, tell you right now, I wish it were 1825,” LePage said. “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. 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.”
So here’s how this all started. On Wednesday, Gov. LePage made a comment at a public meeting about people from out-of-state accused of trafficking in heroin. LePage said he kept a 3-ring binder with pictures of the people involved in the drug trafficking and added that “90 plus percent” of the people in that binder were “black and Hispanic people.”
That led the state representative Drew Gattine to say the governor’s comments on race weren’t helpful to solving the problem. “It’s inconsequential to me what the race is of the people who are coming here solving these crimes and I don’t know why we have to think about it or talk about it,” Gattine said. Note that Gattine did say “solving” though I don’t think he probably meant to say “committing.”
When reporters caught up with Gov. LePage they apparently gave him the impression he had been called a racist. LePage asked who had said so and the reporters mentioned they had talked to Gattine. That’s what set LePage off:
Here’s the message LePage left for Gattine (with the expletives bleeped out):
I don’t blame the Governor for getting angry at being called a racist. The problem here is three-fold. One, it appears Gattine didn’t actually say that, though he was arguably implying it. It’s not completely clear how that happened but there was some sort of miscommunication. So the fact that Gattine didn’t actually use that word makes LePage’s reaction look even more out of proportion.
Two, wishing he could call for a duel is so far over the top that it almost doesn’t matter what Gattine said. No matter how angry LePage felt he should have known better than to tell reporters he wanted to shoot a State Rep. in the face. We get it, you’re angry, but how about demonstrating a little self-control.
Third, LePage defended his initial comments about the race of drug dealers by saying he was just giving people the facts. If so, he should be prepared to back it up. Show the binder to the media. LePage shouldn’t expect everyone to take his word for what is in it. Obviously if he can’t back this up then he never should have said it in the first place. And if he’s wrong about that 90% claim he’s going to have a (justifiably) hard time explaining why he made it.