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LePage Apologizes to Mitchell
07/27/2010   Reported By: Susan Sharon

A day after the Maine Democratic Party asked Republican gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage for an apology, the Waterville mayor has offered one, but not for what Democrats asked.

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LePage Apologizes to Mitchell
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LePage Whistle Stop 2

LePage is telling his opponent Elizabeth Mitchell he's sorry for making a joke about her age and threatening to stop granting interviews with the media unless they're in writing.

During a whistle-stop train trip through midcoast Maine over the weekend, Republican Paul LePage took a couple of jabs at Democratic campaign organizer Arden Manning and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Libby Mitchell. 

LePage accused Manning of saying he is unfit for office because he is French Canadian and Catholic, a claim which Manning denies and for which Democrats now want an apology.  At a stop in Bath, LePage also took aim at Mitchell's age, saying she recently celebrated her 70th birthday, "I'm a little concerned about her," LePage said. "I think we should send her home." 

Later, he was asked by MPBN whether he thought Mitchell was too old to be governor.

LePage Whistle Stop 1"No, no. I don't think it's too old." said LePage. "I just think at 70 she's earned time to relax and put up her feet and I would like to do that for her in November."

But after the Maine chapter of AARP complained about Lepage's remarks, the GOP hopeful took to the airwaves on WVOM Tuesday morning and offered his Democratic opponent an apology.

"If Elizabeth is offended by it, my deepest apologies 'cause it was certainly never meant to offend her," LePage said. "She's worked very hard and she's had a good career and I just think the issue should be brought up.  My difference with Elizabeth Mitchell is on the policies."

LePage Whistle Stop 1LePage, who is 61 years old, also criticized the media, and MPBN in particular, for exploiting his comments.  LePage told WVOM's morning show hosts that he'll be taking a different tact wtih the press from here on out:

Paul LePage: "Well, from now on what I'm going to do is I'm not going to make any comments to reporters unless it's in writing."

George Hale: "Really?"

Paul LePage: "Yeah, 'cause they won't report what you say.  They just report the spin they want to put on it."

LePage did not apologize for comments about Democratic organizer Arden Manning.  Dan Walker, an attorney for the Maine Democratic Party, says Manning has asked him to look into the possibility of a slander lawsuit.  To be successful, Manning would have to demonstrate that LePage's comments were false or were made with a reckless disregard for the truth.  But because Manning is a public figure, there would be have to be an even higher threshold to meet.

LePage Whistle Stop 4"He would also have to prove that the statement harmed his reputation in such a manner that it resulted in economic harm," said Walker. "So, the Democratic Party is assessing both of these issues and they do know that the statement is not true so they're assessing whether or not he made a mistake or he made it with reckless disregard for the truth."

Attempts to reach Paul LePage through his campaign were unsuccessful. A receptionist  who answered the phone said the canidate was unavailable to take any questions.


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