Speaking to reporters Friday morning, LePage was asked to respond to suggestions from NAACP members and others that his decision not to attend ceremonies honoring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was part of a negative pattern.
“Tell them to kiss my butt,” LePage said with a large smile, according to video by WCSH6. He then added: “If they want to play the race card, come to dinner and my son will talk to them,” a reference to his adopted son, Devon Raymond, who is black.
Dan Demeritt, LePage’s spokesman, had said the Republican governor was unable to attend a NAACP dinner honoring King in Portland on Sunday because of personal commitments and a NAACP breakfast in Orono on Monday because he plans to attend the funeral for a former state trooper.
But leaders of the NAACP pointed out in news reports published Friday that LePage had declined numerous invitations from the organization.
Rachel Talbot Ross, state director of the NAACP, told the Portland Press Herald she was concerned “we’re not welcome and we’re not part of the Maine” LePage is preparing to lead.
LePage dismissed such suggestions, however, and said the NAACP can look at his family picture for proof.
“They’re a special interest, end of story, and I’m not going to be held hostage by a special interest,” LePage said. “The fact of the matter is there are only so many hours in the day and so many hours in the week and so much that you can do.”
Demeritt also quoted an organizer of King events at the Muskie Community Center in Waterville as saying that LePage was a regular guest at the annual event, delivering the welcome address in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008.
Within hours of LePage’s comments, the national president and CEO of the NAACP, Benjamin Todd Jealous, issued a strongly worded response.
“Gov. LePage’s decision to inflame racial tension on the eve of the King holiday denigrates his office,” said Jealous, whose father is from Maine. “His words are a reminder of the worst aspects of Maine’s history and out of touch with our nation’s deep yearning for increased civility and racial healing.”
Jealous once again whines because someone doesn't bow down to the irrelevant NAACP demands. NAACP pulls out the race card whenever anyone doesn't behave like they are demanding and this is another example.
Plus for Jealous to say a tongue in cheek "Kiss my butt" comment inflames racial tension is an insult to the black community as if everyone will take up arms over it.