'When I want to say something that is off-color, I'm going to tape my mouth shut.'

AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage now keeps a roll of duct tape on his desk as a reminder to himself.

AP file photo

Gov. Paul LePage says he is trying to keep from saying off-color remarks that stir up controversy.

More coverage: Has Gov. Paul LePage said too much?

"We all have faults. Mine is that I can't keep my mouth shut," LePage, 64, said Thursday here in his office. "I promised my staff: Now till Election Day, when I want to say something that is off-color, I'm going to tape my mouth shut."

New England's only Republican governor is coming off a rocky summer. He alluded to sodomy while criticizing a political opponent, joked about bombing the state's largest newspaper and on Aug. 19 was quoted online as saying the nation's first black president "hates white people."

A Republican in a state twice carried by Democratic President Obama, LePage is already one of the most vulnerable governors seeking re-election next year. The verbal miscues are creating fissures in his party, robbing him of the chance to sell his pro-business and tea party-backed agenda and underscoring a "go it alone" attitude that's alienating potential allies.

"I will put my actions against any candidate running for governor," LePage said. "I can get it done. They talk nice words. This state has been under 50 years of one-party rule. It is time they get a little shock to the system. Wake them up."

LePage can rattle off a list of accomplishments, mostly from his first two years in office, when Republicans controlled not only the governor's mansion but both chambers of the legislature for the first time since 1967. Maine traditionally elected Democratic or centrist Republican governors.

He reduced income taxes by the largest amount in state history, froze cost-of-living increases for three years and raised the retirement age for new state workers to revamp the pension plan. He also enacted a program to repay about $500 million in debt to hospitals, which has been a drag on the state's credit rating, by negotiating better terms on a state liquor contract.

"These were all historic pieces of legislation that are pushing the needle in the right direction," said Scott Moody, the chief executive officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a Portland-based research organization that says it promotes "conservative public policies" and free enterprise.

One of the most tangible signs of his leadership is in downtown Portland, the state's largest city, where teachers this week were preparing for the first class of 135 freshman and sophomores at the Baxter Academy for Technology and Science. Maine's third charter school, it will boast a Mandarin-speaking instructor, a metalworking shop with computer-controlled machines, and math and science classrooms looking out on Casco Bay.

LePage also has cut the size of the state government, overhauled Maine's welfare program to push recipients off of the dole after five years and passed legislation — which hasn't been implemented — to require drug testing for welfare recipients with narcotics convictions.

Advocates for the needy say the changes cut benefits to 2,231 families, including 80 a month that will be pushed off welfare as they hit the five-year limit.

"It is unprecedented, the cuts to the safety net," said Robyn Merrill, a senior policy analyst with Maine Equal Justice Partners, an Augusta-based nonprofit. "Instead of a war on poverty, it feels like a war on poor people."

LePage answers critics by saying that some of his 17 siblings have been on welfare.

"We want to have some accountability," he said. "We want a system that, one, we can afford, two, it works and, three, that the most vulnerable are taken care of and are moving toward self-sufficiency."

In June, the governor vetoed a bill that would have expanded Medicaid to 50,000 adults without children and prevented about 25,000 from losing benefits starting in January.

LePage said he's open to revisiting a smaller expansion that requires the poor to contribute something toward their health costs when the legislature returns next year.

"If you are making $20,000 a year and you can use 1 percent of your income to pay for your health insurance, I think that is a deal," he said. "I'll take that deal all day long."

Selling the new agenda hasn't been easy.

Last week, on the same day that LePage sent every U.S. governor a carton of lobster to promote the industry, the Portland Press Herald quoted unidentified Republican lawmakers as saying that LePage, speaking at a fundraiser, told donors that Obama "hates white people."

In the interview, LePage referred to the comments as "alleged," though he didn't deny making them.

"It was not the way it was reported," he said.

He also sent a letter to members of his party: "My fellow Republicans, I write to you to apologize for any difficulty that remarks recently reported in the press may have caused you."

Other comments were caught on tape. In June, during a budget battle where Republicans joined forces with Democrats to override his spending plan, LePage singled out Democratic lawmaker Troy Jackson.

"Senator Jackson claims to be for the people, but he's the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline," LePage told a local television station. The governor walked away and then returned. "That comment is not politically correct, but we've got to understand who this man is," he said. "This man is a bad person. He doesn't only have no brains, he has a black heart."

The episode prompted Robert Katz, the assistant Republican leader in the state Senate, to write an apologetic essay in the Press Herald. "I am embarrassed," he said.

In the interview, LePage said he's a "poor politician but a good businessman."

His shoot-from-the-hip comments date to the campaign, when he told a group of fishermen: "As your governor, you're going to be seeing a lot of me on the front page saying, 'Governor LePage tells Obama to go to hell.' "

The governor was raised in Lewiston, Maine. He said his father beat him as a child, injuring him enough to require hospital treatment at one point, prompting him to leave home and live on the streets.

With the help of two families, he said, he found work and went to school. He graduated from Lewiston High School and Husson College in Bangor, Maine, then received a master's degree in business administration from the University of Maine.

He worked at a discount chain, Marden's Surplus & Salvage, where he rose to become general manager. In 2003, he was elected mayor of Waterville, home to Colby College.

In 2010, he beat six Republicans in a primary to become the party's nominee for the open seat for governor. LePage won by 2 percentage points, with 38 percent of the vote in a five-way race.

In LePage's statehouse office, there's a framed picture of Secretariat, the champion racehorse that swept the Triple Crown in 1973, with a message signed by former jockey Ron Turcotte.

"It says, 'You are the living Secretariat,' " LePage said. "I was totally unknown before I became governor."

Polls suggest his run may not last. LePage's party lost control of both chambers of the legislature in 2012. A survey of 953 voters by Public Policy Polling, conducted Aug. 23-25, showed Democratic challenger Mike Michaud, one of Maine's two members of Congress since 2003, beating LePage 39 percent to 35 percent.

Independent Eliot Cutler, who ran in 2010 and hasn't formally declared for next year, was backed by 18 percent. The poll had a margin for error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

Perhaps more tellingly, this week Democrats narrowly won a special election for a swing senate seat after running radio advertisements that rehashed LePage's gaffes and making robocalls tying the candidate to the governor's opposition of Medicaid expansion.

After hearing the vote totals, losing Republican candidate Paula Benoit, 58, stood outside her election night party at an Irish pub in Bath and said that seniors were misled.

"Democrats said I would take away their Medicaid," she said. "Can you imagine that?"

Standing in the vestibule in the salty Maine air, she repeated the same phrase a few times.

"I'm a moderate Republican," she said. "I'm a moderate Republican."

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Comments

Nice...

I think the stock price on several duct tape makers just went up...

Keep shoot'n Governor. I

Keep shoot'n Governor.

I enjoy reading 'bout ye in papers like the Daily Mail!

Steve  Dosh's picture

'When I want to say something I'm going to tape my mouth shut.'

Slednecks , 11:00 am-ish hst ? Saturday
. . We merely ƒart in your general direction , Paul
Okay everyone
Let's see that I-Talian salute again
( as we raise our middle fingers proudly skyward ) !
/s , Dr. Dosh and ohana , HI us of a . . ;)

Kim Waite's picture

And don't we Italians...

...also slap our forearm before we give that middle-finger-salute? LOL!

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Just look at the picture.........

Just look at the picture at the top of this article. Is this the image you want representing the Great State of Maine? Take everything he's said publicly and ask yourself, is this the person I want representing my best interest?
LePage is a visible image of Maine. One that gets shown all over the country, people see him and base what they see on what Maine is all about. Would you plan a vacation to a state after hearing this idiot speak?
There's a lot more at stake, in a reelection of Lepage than just his mouth. The tourist industry must be taking a hit...............

Pat Morin's picture

foot in mouth desease

he had a bit of sense he should realized that his comments were abrupt, rude, and totally not retractable. His leadership leave much to be desired and I feel bad for those that believed so strongly in him. His treatment of state workers is a joke and also that of the press..People print what they hear not what he concludes they should.
61% did not agree with his election.

CAROLYN LIBBEY's picture

Too little too late Gov.

Too little too late Gov.

 's picture

In a week,he will deny he

In a week,he will deny he ever said this,and claim the press got it all wrong.It will take a lot more than duct tape to keep him from making inappropriate comments.

ANTHONY NAZAR's picture

As Governor

You should have some self control.

I've 86'ed people out of working men's bars for getting mouthy like you do. It's not refreshing, it's not funny, to have a chief executive with your lack of self control.

Take a page from Palin. Resign, write a book and go on tour, preferably in Outer Mongolia.

 's picture

SO TRUE Tony!

SO TRUE Tony!

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Duct tape

Wow ! The temptation to send the gov a roll of duct tape is almost irresistible. If the only problem was his mouth I would send him a crate of it.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

One large industrial tube

of super glue would suffice for all that money wasted on tape.

AL PELLETIER's picture

I can hear it now.

Ms. Bennetts new explanation for his next idiotic remark, "he forgot the duck tape in his office".
OH, did he mention he would keep the duck tape handy if he were to say something off color before the election. What about after? That's right, he won't need it.

What is with all of the

What is with all of the question marks Kim? Sticky keyboard?

Kim Waite's picture

What's with all YOUR questions marks?

Loser.

How very mature a response.

How very mature a response.

Wow, and to claim that the

Wow, and to claim that the Republicans are the intolerant ones. Even from Minnesota Jerry insists on spreading his hatred across state lines. Is life that miserable for you Jerry?

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Just to think Booby

That we almost became brothers, but thankfully the guy in front of my dad had the correct change...

Kim Waite's picture

BAM!

Good one Jerry! I see you've gotten the right wing trolls all in a tizzy. Keep up the good work! It's fun watching them drool down their necks while dragging their knuckles on the ground....

By the content of your posts,

By the content of your posts, and Jerry's, I would say it is you two who are in a tizzy over the Governor. ;-)

Have a great night Kim.

Kim Waite's picture

We don't like the guv'nah.

He's a mole that must be whacked like the game whack-a-mole! The fact that you defend the defenseless says more about you than it does Jerry and me.

You amuse me Kim.

You amuse me Kim.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Sit down and give your mind a rest.

Don't you love nature, despite what it did to you?

LOL.

LOL.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

.

8>)

Wow Jerry, I am speechless.

Wow Jerry, I am speechless. (chuckling at your post.)

Where is all this anger

Where is all this anger coming from Jerry.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

What was that old adage?

Right, if we what any crapola out of you, we can just squeeze your tiny little head....

Jerry, your documented hatred

Jerry, your documented hatred towards Paul LePage is unhealthy. A little therapy probably would do wonders.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

So says

Dr, Sevigny...please...did you buy your doctorate? Oh right you are one of the flag bearers of the righteous wonders....

I frequently see mention of

I frequently see mention of the Koch Brothers, but never a mention of the likes George Soros or Donald Sussman. Why is that?

Kim Waite's picture

Has the guv'nah gone to Jamaica

...to meet with George Soros & Donald Sussman??????

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

To fill

his belly with Rum and candy for the little girls....

Kim Waite's picture

It's interesting how he goes to Jamaica

...with only his wife, no staff, and no security. He doesn't even invite his "adopted Jamaican son" that he never adopted and Jamaica is his home country! He's obviously meeting secretly with the Two Brothers out of the country to get his marching orders...

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Sept

is the Hedonism Resort month for visitors to the island.

http://www.hedonism.com/

Coming to Jamaica? If you’re staying at a nearby hotel and want a taste of the world-famous Hedonism II, check out our day or night passes here.

He was one sick puppy when he was younger, probably still thrives on it....got all of that, living at the Jolly at the Holly Hotel in Lewiston until Ed and Pauline took him in...

JOANNE MOORE's picture

Because.....

Because they are not out to destroy our environment for profit.

Kim Waite's picture

The best way to shut the guv'nah up & to save Maine's reputation

....would be to throw a mud pie at his face every time his lips separate to talk.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Be sure to use the proper kind of tape and places, Paul

One ex-large roll of duct tape completely used and wrapped around his melon head would still not prevent him from spewing out his stupid remarks. Now, he must not forget to put the tape over his sphincter, that would mostly help him from talking through it too.

His efforts are moot since he will never win any type of election or office again. But keep the tape on, Paul...

Kim Waite's picture

I hope his head isn't made out of melon...

....because I don't think ducttape would stick to it! I'm hoping it's made out of plastic!

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Yep

His head does resemble a plastic pumpkin head...empty and colorful...

Kim Waite's picture

I bet if we shined a light near his plastic pumpkin head

....we would see a mouse with a broken leg running on a wheel inside to get those synapses of his to work!

 's picture

I'm sorry; the message is the problem not only the messanger

While many folks have been offended by the Governor's behavior and while its a red flag reflecting on his competence; watching his language until election day is not a solution. How about after election day. How about doing what's best for all Mainers instead of Business owners. How about creating jobs like the 4500 jobs that came with Medicaid expansion which the Governor rejected. How about selling the bonds that Mainers already approved so we can fix the infrastructure and hire people to do it. How about a lot of things this Governor should have been saying for the betterment of this State but hasn't because his mouth was taped shut by his Puppet Masters in Washington D. C.

He can say what he wants

He can say what he wants after election day. Won't matter then because he'll only governor another two months at that point.

Kim Waite's picture

You're sounding very reasonable Jonathan...

...and the guv'nah and his party here in Maine don't like reasonable talk! And besides, it makes the Koch Brothers cry.

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