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Gov. Paul LePage started today in the national media spotlight with an appearance on Fox & Friends.

LePage has been in Washington for several days meeting with President Donald Trump and Republican governors and leading a discussion about welfare reform at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday.

LePage’s national television appearance was brief and for the most part, the hosts fed him statements with which he could agree. For starters, he was asked if he supports Trump’s executive order — both the one he’s already issued and the revised one he is expected to issue Wednesday — that bans travel or immigration from certain countries.

“I support it very, very strongly,” said LePage. “We have recently had a terrorist in our state. It’s about safety in my mind. We all want immigration to continue but we want to make sure it’s done safely. I just want people to be vetted properly.”

LePage was presumably referring to a Freeport man, Adnan Fazeli, who traveled to Syria in 2014 to fight for Muslim extremists on behalf of the Islamic State. Fazeli, who died in 2015 while fighting in Lebanon, did not take part in any terrorist activity in Maine and his family alerted authorities about their concerns that he had become radicalized.


The governor and the show’s hosts did not mention that neither Trump ban would target people coming to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia, which is where most of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists who traveled through Maine held citizenship.

LePage was then asked about Trump’s upcoming budget proposal, which reportedly will boost defense department spending and not touch Medicare or Social Security. LePage said Congress should act to return Social Security funds that were appropriated to the Affordable Care Act.

“What they should be doing with Medicare is return the $800 billion they stole to put into Obamacare,” he said. “I really do believe that it was stealing from the American people. The American people have been paying into this program.”

LePage was then asked about his fiscal management of Maine in a question bred from an analysis posted by the Bangor Daily News on Sunday about the fact that the Maine treasurer’s cash pool has topped a monthly average of $1 billion for the first time in history.

However, the Fox hosts said inaccurately that the $1 billion sits in Maine’s rainy day fund. LePage appeared to be surprised by the question and its premise.

“I don’t spend a whole lot,” he said of the state budget. “I only spend what I need to.”

Finally, LePage said he supports a repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act and suggested that Trump’s preference for block grants and letting states use the money to create their own health care programs would benefit Maine.

“One size does not fit all,” he said. “Every state has their unique dynamics. The state of Maine is the oldest state in the country and so we need to have our own program that we can design to fit our state.”

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