AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Republican Gov. Paul LePage said Wednesday he intends to seek "spiritual guidance" in hopes of quieting a controversy he created when he left an obscene message on a Democratic lawmaker's voicemail and then said he wished he could challenge him to a duel and point a gun at him.
LePage apologized to state Rep. Drew Gattine personally and later blamed the media for fueling the fight. He also denied claims by some legislators that he was struggling with addiction or mental health issues.
Keller @ Large: Pay Close Attention To Paul LePage
"I'm not an alcoholic. I'm not a drug addict. I don't have mental issues," LePage told reporters. "What I have is a backbone and I want to move Maine forward."
LePage said he doesn't intend to talk to the media anymore, a claim he has made before.
In recent days, legislators have called for LePage to step down or get professional help after his remarks to Gattine and comments he made blaming blacks and Hispanics for Maine's heroin epidemic. LePage, who's Roman Catholic, responded Wednesday by saying he wouldn't resign and instead intended to seek "spiritual guidance." He did not elaborate on what that involved.
His wife said in a statement to the media that the family believed God would help them through the situation.
"We have always been a family of faith and we recognize that the grace and guidance from God can make us stronger in life," first lady Ann LePage said.
Last week, the governor left a foul-mouthed voicemail message for Gattine that said in part, "I am after you," and then he told reporters he wished he could go back in time and challenge Gattine to a duel and point a gun "right between his eyes." LePage said he was angry because Gattine called him a racist, something Gattine denied.
The governor initially stood by his statements, saying they were warranted because Gattine had called him "the absolute worst, most vile thing." But on Tuesday he apologized, saying his behavior was "unacceptable." He met with Gattine face-to-face on Wednesday, and Gattine said later that despite the apology, he still thinks LePage should resign.
While apologizing for his rant on Gattine, there was no apology from the governor for comments that started the controversy.
LePage blamed out-of-state blacks and Hispanics for fueling Maine's heroin epidemic, and he has stood by those comments. He said he keeps photos of drug dealers arrested in the state in a binder and said it shows 90 percent of them "are black and Hispanic people from Waterbury, Connecticut; the Bronx; and Brooklyn."
Previously, the governor has complained about out-of-state drug dealers named "D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty" impregnating young white girls and blamed a rise in infectious diseases on immigrants without providing data.
LePage has blamed liberals for inserting race into his comments and distorting his meaning.
On Tuesday, House Republicans gathered in Augusta to figure out potential punishments for LePage over his latest crisis, while about 1,000 people rallied near the Blaine House to call for him to quit.
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