Maine Gov. Paul LePage apologized Friday for leaving a profane-laced voicemail for a Democratic state legislator in which he accused him of calling LePage a racist and challenged him to make the recording public.
LePage, an outspoken Republican who has endorsed presidential nominee Donald Trump, left the message Thursday for Rep. Drew Gattine, The Portland Press Herald reports.
A local television reporter had suggested Thursday that Gattine was among several people who called LePage a racist, which the legislator denied.
The night before, the governor said that "90-plus percent" of drug-trafficking suspects arrested during the state's heroin epidemic were "black and Hispanic people," CNN reports.
Here is the text of LePage's voicemail, which was also shared with CNN:
"Mr. Gattine, this is Gov. Paul Richard LePage. I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you (expletive). I want to talk to you. I want you to prove that I'm a racist. I've spent my life helping black people and you little son-of-a-bitch, socialist (expletive). You … I need you to, just friggin. I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you."
LePage apologized Friday in a statement — though not directly to Gattine — and spurned calls by other Maine Democrats to resign.
"When someone calls me a racist, I take it very seriously," his statement said, according to the Press Herald. "I didn't know Drew Gattine from a hole in the wall until yesterday.
"It made me enormously angry when a TV reporter asked me for my reaction about Gattine calling me a racist. It is the absolute worst, most vile thing you can call a person.
"So I called Gattine and used the worst word I could think of," LePage continued. "I apologize for that to the people of Maine, but I make no apology for trying to end the drug epidemic that is ravaging our state.
"Legislators like Gattine would rather be politically correct and protect ruthless drug dealers than work with me to stop this crisis that is killing five Mainers a week."
LePage is known for his controversial remarks.
Earlier this week, he slammed Khizr Khan, who attacked Trump's proposed Muslim ban at the Democratic National Convention last month, as a "con artist."
Khan's son Humayun Khan, 27, of Bristow, Va., was an Army captain who was killed Iraq in 2004. He was awarded the Purple Heart and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
The Trump campaign also hired LePage's daughter to increase voter outreach efforts in the state.
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