After-interview footage has been released showing Paul LePage, Republican candidate and Tea Party favorite for Governor in Maine telling a news anchor that he is about ready to punch a radio reporter.
Here's a transcript:
Host: ...and also I think the radio reporters are going to come find you after this is all over.
LePage: Radio reporters.
Host: Well we have two radio reporters... [LePage interrupts]
LePage: Who are they?
Host: It's Susan Sheridan and A.J. Higgins [State House Bureau Chief for the Maine Public Broadcasting Network]
LePage: I don't want to talk to either one of them.
Host: Okay, well they're going to come find you afterwards.
LePage: I am about ready to punch A.J. Higgins.
Host: Don't punch him.
LePage: Oh, come on.
This is the latest in a string of controversial comments caught on tape, with LePage making national headlines today over a video of him saying that if he was elected Governor of Maine he would tell the President of the United States to go to hell.
Here is that video:
LePage seems to have earned the nickname "LeRage" that some outlets are using to describe his antics.
And indications are that Maine voters are waking up to the prospect of a LePage victory. One Maine resident had this to say in a letter to the editor of Maine's Waterville Morning Sentinel:
I watched in absolute disbelief this past week as Maine politics was immortalized on YouTube and in the news.
I believe that someone who chooses to run for governor should have high ideals, solid plans and a genuine desire to do good for the state of Maine. Paul LePage seems to have none of these. In the past week, I have seen him lie outright about his ownership of land, his paying property taxes in Maine and Florida. I have seen video of him yelling obscenities at reporters and the latest of him telling our president to "go to hell." He appears to be an arrogant, intemperate ideologue who doesn't care a whit about Maine or its people.
I hope that Mainers, of all parties, consider their votes very carefully this fall. What are you voting for -- the next person up at the Comedy Club or someone who can really work constructively for the benefit of us all.
LePage has already shown he's not the person for the job.
After harnessing an 18-point lead in the polls a few weeks ago, the latest polls indicate that LePage is now in a neck-and-neck race with his Democratic opponent Libby Mitchell.
Update: I just spoke with A.J. Higgins, the reporter that LePage threatened to punch. I asked if he had a black eye yet, but Higgins told me that LePage called him and "semi-apologized," stating that his on-air comment "was a joke." Higgins says he's "ready to move on," although the 34-year veteran reporter acknowledged that it's been "a different experience" covering the gubernatorial race this year. No doubt, considering LePage's antics.
LePage hasn't been so eager to apologize for his "go to hell" comments about President Obama, telling the AP: "Am I politically correct all the time? No. Maybe it's time to have people say bluntly what's going on. The fact of the matter is that I haven't learned how to speak out of both sides of my mouth yet."
Follow Brendan DeMelle on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bdemelle