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Obama 'hates white people': Maine Gov. Paul LePage's greatest hits [Updated]
The blunt-talking governor with a history of controversial remarks says he'll seek a second term next year
His biggest fear: Newspapers.
His biggest fear: Newspapers. AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty
M

aine Gov. Paul LePage (R) announced last month that he would run for re-election in 2014.

LePage squeaked into office in 2010 with some help from the Tea Party — he won just 38 percent of the vote in a three-way race — and has since earned a reputation as a blunt, loose-lipped politician with a penchant for controversy. Think a less diplomatic version of Chris Christie.

Things got so bad that in June, Assistant Senate Republican Leader Roger Katz wrote an op-ed saying he was "embarrassed" by LePage's "unfortunate tone."

With LePage gearing up to pursue a second term, here's a look back at some of his more memorable controversies.

"Obama hates white people"
Move over, Kanye West.

At a fundraiser in August, LePage reportedly told a group of Republican lawmakers and supporters that President Obama "hates white people," according to an account one attendee gave to the Bangor Daily News.

The chairman of the state GOP, Rick Bennett, told the Daily News he personally had not heard the remark, but said LePage did discuss how "President Obama had an opportunity to unify the country on race, but didn't do anything."

"The governor is not a racist," he added.

"Blow it up"
LePage is no fan of newspapers (more on that below). Just how much does he hate the print news business? Enough to joke about bombing it to smithereens, apparently.

LePage had the chance to test out a fighter jet simulator this summer. While sitting in the cockpit, he was asked, "What would you like to do?"

His response: "I want to find the [Portland] Press Herald building and blow it up."

A spokesman for the governor later said he was "clearly joking."

"Vaseline"
LePage came under fire in June for making a vulgar sexual reference about a Democratic state senator, Troy Jackson, while discussing the state's deadlocked budget negotiations.

"Senator Jackson claims to be for the people, but he's the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline," LePage said in an interview with Maine's WMTW News.

LePage then walked away, only to return a little later with a semi-apology.

"Damnit," he said. "That comment is not politically correct, but we've got to understand who this man is. This man is a bad person. He doesn't only have no brains, he has a black heart."

"Governor LePage tells Obama to go to hell"
On the campaign trail in 2010, LePage told voters they should elect him because he would defend them from the federal government's tyranny. He added, "As your governor, you're gonna be seeing a lot of me on the front page saying, 'Governor LePage tells Obama to go to hell.'"

"The new Gestapo, the IRS"
There have been a number of criticisms of the Affordable Care Act: It's unconstitutional; it's unwieldy; it hinders job growth. LePage, responding to the Supreme Court ruling that upheld the law, added a new one, likening the IRS, which will enforce much of that law, to Nazi Germany's police force.

"We the people have been told there is no choice," he said during a weekly radio address. "You must buy health insurance or pay the new Gestapo, the IRS."

After catching flak, LePage clarified one week later that the IRS isn't actually the Gestapo.

"What I am trying to say is the Holocaust was a horrific crime against humanity and, frankly, I would never want to see that repeated," he said. "Maybe the IRS is not quite as bad — yet."

"Kiss my butt"
Shortly after assuming office in 2011, LePage said he would not attend Martin Luther King Day events hosted by the NAACP, explaining his decision by saying, "I am not going to be held hostage by a special interest group."

When asked about the NAACP's criticism of him for turning down those invites, LePage told a reporter, "Tell them to kiss my butt."

"Some women may have little beards"
In 2011, the Maine Board of Environmental Protection recommended banning bisphenol A, or BPA, in all reusable food and beverage containers sold in the state. Studies have linked BPA to health problems in young children and fetuses, prompting the European Union and several U.S. states to regulate the chemical's use.

LePage, unconvinced that the science behind those studies was sound, disagreed with the environmental agency's recommendation.

"The only thing that I've heard is if you take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave and you heat it up, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen," he said. "So the worst case is some women may have little beards."

"Newspapers"
LePage is terrified of Maine's newspapers.

While visiting a grade school, LePage told the students, "My greatest fear in the state of Maine: Newspapers. I'm not a fan of newspapers."

TV and radio news were all right, LePage added, because they don't "spin" the news.

"Brainwash the masses"
Months into his first term, LePage ordered that a mural depicting labor triumphs and notable figures like Rosie the Riveter be removed from the state's Department of Labor building, saying the mural was too one-sided.

A spokesperson for LePage said he had made the decision after receiving an anonymous fax likening it to "communist North Korea where they use these murals to brainwash the masses."

"The Department of Labor is a state agency that works very closely with both employees and employers, and we need to have a decor that represents neutrality," the spokesperson added.

The U.S. Labor Department, which helped pay for the mural with a $60,000 grant, filed a federal lawsuit demanding that it be returned. A judge threw out that lawsuit, but LePage placed the mural back on display in the Maine State Museum earlier this year.

Editor's note: This story was first published on July 3, 2013, and updated on August 20.

Jon Terbush is a staff writer for TheWeek.com covering politics, sports, and other things he finds interesting. He has previously written for Talking Points Memo, Raw Story, and Business Insider.

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