Speed Reads

what not to say

Gov. Paul LePage reminds John Lewis of what Republicans have done for civil rights: 'A simple thank you would suffice'

Before he said he does not see President-elect Donald Trump as a "legitimate president," Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) should've taken a "look at history" and all Republican presidents have done for civil rights — at least, that's the opinion of Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R). "It was Abraham Lincoln that freed the slaves. It was Rutherford B. Hayes and Ulysses S. Grant that fought against Jim Crow laws. A simple 'thank you' would suffice," LePage said during an interview Tuesday on WVOM Maine radio's George Hale and Ric Tyler Show, while discussing Lewis' comment that he believes Russian interference undermined the legitimacy of Trump's presidency.

The Portland Press Herald pointed out that LePage's claims about 19th-century Republican presidents' contributions to civil rights simply aren't accurate: While Grant did oversee the Republican Party's efforts to end slavery and protect African Americans' rights, Hayes "oversaw the end of the Reconstruction era, giving rise to the enactment of Jim Crow laws that enforced racial segregation," the Portland Press Herald reported.

Lewis spokeswoman Brenda Jones said LePage's "mean-spirited comments" were not something Lewis "feels the need to defend himself against." "The facts of history refute that statement," Jones said. A spokesman for LePage did not immediately respond to the Portland Press Herald's request for clarification.

Catch LePage's remarks below. Becca Stanek