Maine's governor under fire for racist comments he made at a town hall that he insists aren't racist.
Tea Party Republican Governor Paul LePage drew fire after speaking at aÂ town hall in Brighton on Wednesday, and made what are being called racist remarks.Â
Responding to a question about Maine's heroin epidemic, the 67-year old blamed theÂ problem on "guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty."
"These types of guys, they come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home," Gov. LePage claimed. "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 we have to deal with down the road."
â€” David Charns (@DavidWMTW) January 8, 2016
The comments drew a few chuckles but went unnoticed until video was rebroadcast Thursday evening, and when they were published by the Portland Press Herald, which labeled them "racially charged."
The governor'sÂ communication director,Â Peter Steele, issued a statement tonight.
"The governor is not making comments about race. Race is irrelevant," Steele insisted. "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."
The New York Times, which noted in its headline that LePage is a supporter of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, reported that even Republicans are outraged.
"Lance Dutson, a Republican operative in Maine, called the remarks 'outrageous'Â on a blog. 'This is one of the most offensive statements yet from this governor,' Mr. Dutson said."
ThinkProgress, calling LePage's remarks a "racist rant,"Â reported the incident this way:
Drug dealers with stereotypically black names are importing heroin to Maine and leaving pregnant white women behind when they leave the state again, Gov. Paul LePage (R) told a town hall meeting on Wednesday.
On Twitter, civil rights activistÂ DeRay Mckesson posted this blunt response:
The Governor of Maine, Paul LePage, is racist.
â€” deray mckesson (@deray) January 8, 2016
ActorÂ Mark Ruffalo posted this tweet:
Wow, racist dog horn blowing. LePage: â€œThese types of guysâ€ impregnating white women in Maine Â« Get Right https://t.co/pgrMNoDYGL
â€” Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) January 8, 2016
Others shared similar feelings on the social media platform:
Either Paul LePage apologizes in a truly heartfelt way, or he's a racist. There is no middle option. #mepolitics
â€” Steven Biel (@stevenbiel) January 8, 2016
LePage removes any doubt that he is a racist. Maine GOP has two choices. Denounce him or own his anti miscegenation policy. #mepolitics
â€” Chris (@Learned_Handle) January 8, 2016
â€” Brooklyn Middleton (@BklynMiddleton) January 7, 2016
@Governor_LePage your racist vitriol and ignorant rhetoric are a disgrace.
â€” P. Murray (@pmurraymusic) January 8, 2016
Image: Screenshot viaÂ David Charns/Twitter