Here’s the full tape of Governor Paul LePage’s remarks at the event in Falmouth:
Much of the speech is rhetoric we’ve heard before, but there are more interesting statements that deserve some explanation or commentary, and many more strange statistics and anecdotes that could use some heavy fact checking. I’ve spent enough time on this already and will leave those tasks to others.
A few highlights to listen for:
LePage threatens to sue the Legislature.
He says he threatened the federal government that he would bus undocumented immigrants to Washington D.C. (for the record, and despite his claims, they aren’t actually eligible for state assistance).
He claims he’s the #2 target nationally for the AFL-CIO, and attacks unions heavily, also going after state workers (bragging that he’s “laid off almost 2,500 state employees”) and teachers (for whom he says Maine’s standards are too low and “a lot of people don’t know what they’re going to do so they go into the teaching profession, because it’s easier to get in”).
He says he will make a new attempt to pass restrictions on collective bargaining and to make pension changes that the unions won’t like. At one point near the end, an audience member asks him: “Is there any way to stop attacking the unions and encourage business? I mean there are lots of factors that encourage business to come to a state. I can’t believe that we can’t change our legislation to encourage businesses to come here and leave our unions alone.”
He claims that during the last election, the Portland Press Herald sent a reporter to Canada who “knocked on my ex-wife’s door, my children’s door to try to interview them to get smut.”
At the one hour mark, there’s an interesting back and forth with the audience on Common Core education standards and whether or not they’re being implemented in Maine.
There’s a sentence right after his remark on 47% of able-bodied Mainers not working where he gives a different (but similarly inflated) number for people accessing public assistance, showing his new explanation for the remark is a complete fabrication (unfortunately, it seems to have already been swallowed uncritically by Maine’s media).
He has some comments about Senators Flood and Katz and ends his speech by saying that Maine should make public assistance and MaineCare more difficult to access by splitting up the forms and making the system less efficient. He says we need to “separate welfare from healthcare,” an interesting remark for someone who has spent months claiming they’re the same thing.
See my column from the weekend for some final thoughts on the contents of the tape.