Maine’s controversial and unpopular governor, Paul LePage, stuck his foot in his mouth yet again last Monday when he reprised Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” attack.
Speaking to a conservative women’s group in Falmouth, Governor LePage asserted that “about 47 percent of able-bodied people in the state of Maine don’t work.”
When a stunned audience member asked “What?”, LePage repeated his point. “About 47 percent. It’s really bad.”
Audio of his remarks is below, via the Bangor Daily News:
As the Daily News’ Mike Tipping points out, LePage’s claim is flagrantly false:
Just to be absolutely clear, LePage’s statistic is completely wrong. Currently, around 65 percent of Mainers over the age of 15 are working or are unemployed and actively seeking work. Of the remaining 35 percent, almost all are retired, are caring for children or other family members, are pursuing education or training or have a disability that prevents them from working. Only a tiny fraction aren’t working for other reasons. The conservative Heritage Foundation, using U.S. Census data, puts this number at 1.1 percent nationally.
LePage’s comment immediately calls to mind Romney’s calamitous assertion that 47 percent of Americans are dependent on government, think of themselves as victims, take no responsibility for their lives, and are thus not worth his campaign’s time. The stunning video of Romney’s gaffe, which was released by Mother Jones in September 2012, did untold damage to the Republican’s presidential hopes.
LePage’s remarks could prove costly as well. The Tea Party-backed governor is currently in the early stages of a tight three-way campaign against Democrat Mike Michaud and Independent Eliot Cutler; although LePage’s approval rating is underwater, he stands a fighting chance due to Cutler’s potential to split the Democratic vote (as he did in 2010, paving the way for LePage’s narrow win).
The governor is no stranger to tone-deaf remarks. Throughout his first term, LePage said that the NAACP can “kiss my butt,” accused a state senator of being “the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline” and of being a “bad person” with “a black heart,” and repeatedly compared the IRS to the Gestapo, among many other controversies.