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Maine governor denies saying Obama 'hates white people'

Maine governor denies saying Obama 'hates white people'
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Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 3:26pm

(CNN) -- Gov. Paul LePage, known for making controversial comments, reportedly said President Barack Obama "hates white people," according to two Maine newspapers citing unnamed sources.

"I never said that. And you guys are all about gossip," he told reporters as he walked out of the Maine State House in Augusta. His comments were recorded by CNN affiliate WCSH.

The Portland Press Herald reported late Monday night that two state lawmakers said LePage, a Republican, made the comment at a Maine GOP fundraiser on August 12.

The Bangor Daily News also reported that LePage made the comment, citing an unnamed attendee.

The Portland Press Herald wrote that LePage argued Obama would be the best president ever if he would highlight his biracial heritage, but he doesn't do so because of his negative feelings towards white people.

The governor's office and the state Republican Party declined to answer questions from CNN about the incident. And a senior political adviser to LePage refused to even speak to the issue, but sent a prepared statement criticizing the Press Herald and noting that the governor had raised a Jamaican teenager.

"It seems farfetched for anyone, even a newspaper, to make an insinuation the Governor is racist given his life history," said Brent Littlefield, LePage's political adviser. "He and his family made a choice and sacrifice when they offered Devon the opportunity to join their family many years ago. Paul and Ann call him their son. Paul LePage recognized many people helped him make it out of poverty and he has been determined to help others succeed."

LePage took in Devon Raymond Jr., in August 2002 to live with his family. LePage refers to him as his son, though they did not formally adopt him.

Lisa Fortier, who hosted the fundraiser with her husband, told CNN: "I never heard it. I never heard anybody mention it."

LePage's reported comment about Obama marks the latest in a string of off-color remarks by the first-term governor, who plans to run for re-election next year. Earlier this month, LePage joked that he wanted to blow up the headquarters of the Press Herald.

According to the Sunlight Foundation, the paper's majority owner is Donald Sussman, a billionaire manager of boutique hedge funds and a major political donor to Democratic super PACs in 2012, as well as other Democratic campaigns over the years. Sussman is married to Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine.

Just a few weeks ago, sitting in a flight simulator, LePage was asked where he wanted to fly to.

"I want to find the Portland Press Herald building and blow it up," he replied, according to video posted on the website of the Daily News.

Later, LePage explained on Twitter he was making a joke.

The governor also caused a stir in June when he made a crude sexual reference to describe a Democratic state lawmaker.

"Sen. Jackson claims to be for the people but he's the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline," LePage told the television station WMTW, referring to state Sen. Troy Jackson.

And last year, he apologized for referring to the Internal Revenue Service as the "Gestapo" in his weekly radio address.

"It was not my intent to insult anyone, especially the Jewish Community, or minimize the fact that millions of people were murdered," the governor said in a statement.

LePage was elected in 2010, after first winning a crowded GOP primary, then narrowly winning the general election with 38% of the vote. In addition to the Democratic candidate, LePage also ran against two independents. The three candidates caused a wide split in his opposition.

CNN's Ashley Killough and Jim Acosta contributed to this report.

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