With echoes of the infamous “47 percent” comments that helped sink Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, Maine Gov. Paul LePage claimed recently that “about 47 percent of able-bodied people in the state of Maine don’t work.”
LePage, a vulnerable Republican up for reelection next year who has a well-documented propensity for politically damaging comments, made the remarks last week to a conservative audience, but a recording was obtained and published by the Bangor Daily News on Tuesday.
When a member of the audience responded to LePage’s initial statement by asking “what?”, Le Page said: “About 47%. It’s really bad.”
Sixty-five percent of Maine residents age 15 and older are employed or actively seeking work, according to the newspaper, while most of the remaining 35 percent are retired, caring for children, in school or disabled.
After LePage caught flak for the comment, a spokeswoman didn’t back away from them. LePage, spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett said, “understands that not everyone who is dependent on taxpayer dollars is ‘able-bodied,’ but he does believe that everyone, regardless of their ability or physical condition, can contribute to society in a meaningful way. Liberal activists are determined to increase the number of residents who take tax dollars by expanding the size of government and the benefits government workers get and increasing the welfare rolls.”
LePage, considered one of the country’s most vulnerable governors in 2014, has previously been reported as saying he wanted to blow up a newspaper and that President Barack Obama “hates white people” (a comment he denied making.
Listen to LePage’s comments below: