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Maine's LePage doubles down on racially charged argument

When talking about drug dealers, Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) used to say race was "irrelevant." Now he's saying something very different.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage during a news conference March 10, 2014, in Brunswick, Maine.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage during a news conference March 10, 2014, in Brunswick, Maine.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) made headlines earlier this year with racially charged comments about drug dealers. The Portland Press Herald reports that the controversial Republican governor returned to the issue yesterday.

Gov. Paul LePage said Wednesday night that more than 90 percent of drug dealers arrested in Maine since January are black or Hispanic, returning to an issue he raised that month in comments that were widely condemned. The governor made the reference at a town hall forum in North Berwick.

A New York businessman asked the governor, "Given the rhetoric you put out there about people of color in Maine, calling them drug dealers et cetera, how can I bring a company here given the toxic environment you create?"
LePage apparently had an answer ready. "I made the comment that black people are trafficking in our state, now ever since I said that comment I've been collecting every single drug dealer who has been arrested in our state," the governor said. "I don't ask them to come to Maine and sell their poison, but they come and I will tell you that 90-plus percent of those pictures in my book, and it's a three-ringed binder, are black and Hispanic people from Waterbury, Conn., the Bronx and Brooklyn."
Let's not forget how we got to this point.
As regular readers may recall, in January, LePage insisted Maine's drug problem should be blamed on out-of-state dealers. "These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty ... these types of guys ... they come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home," LePage said. "Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road."
That, of course, sounded pretty racist, but the governor's spokesperson said in a statement at the time, "The governor is not making comments about race. Race is irrelevant."
In fact, LePage soon after added at a press conference, "I never said anything about white or black traffickers.... What are they, black? I don't know. I just read the names."
LePage has since abandoned the pretense. Whereas race used to be "irrelevant" to the GOP governor, and he just "read the names" without any interest race or ethnicity, LePage now very specifically reviews photographs of arrested dealers, taking note of people of color.
And why does he do this? Evidently, in the hopes of justifying his racially charged rhetoric.