Maine’s new governor, Paul LePage, is making news again by telling the state’s NAACP chapter to “kiss my butt.” Seems that LePage, a Tea Party favorite who ran as a Republican, has pissed off members of the African-American community by becoming the first Maine governor in years to turn down an invitation to participate in Martin Luther King Day ceremonies.
Although LePage’s office claims he has other personal commitments, many in the black community recall candidate LePage telling the nation’s first African-American president to “go to hell” and question his real motives.
Pressed about his refusal to participate in MLK Day ceremonies, here is how LePage responded:
“Tell ‘em to kiss my butt,” he said, laughing. “If they want to play the race card, come to dinner and my son will talk to them.”
“They are a special interest,” he told the (radio) station. “End of story. And I’m not going to be held hostage by special interests. And if they want, they can look at my family picture. My son happens to be black, so they can do whatever they’d like about it.”
LePage has an adopted Jamaican son named Devon.
“I don’t care who he’s got in his family,” Rachel Talbot Ross, state director of the NAACP and president of the NAACP Portland branch, told The Portland Press Herald. “And he’s saying we’re playing the race card? The makeup of his family isn’t the issue and it never was the issue. For him to say we’re playing the race card shows a real lack of awareness of the very important issues we’re working to address. Our kids deserve better. Maine deserves better. His son deserves better.”
Tea Party and GOP activists have responded to the news stories by applauding LePage’s comments as a “breath of fresh air.” For members in the minority community, his “kiss my butt” comment suggests that the next four years will be anything but cordial with the new man in the governor’s office.