As ThinkProgress reported Friday, Maine’s tea party-backed Gov. Paul LePage (R) declined invitations from the NAACP to attend events honoring Martin Luther King Day today because he said he had prior commitments. When LePage was criticized for skipping the events, he fired back, saying, “I am not going to be held hostage by a special interest group,” and telling the civil rights group to “kiss my butt.”
But today, LePage backpedaled and attended an MLK Day breakfast in his hometown of Waterville. The breakfast, which LePage attended in the past as mayor of the town, was not sponsored by the NAACP, but by Spectrum Generations and the Waterville Rotary Club. And while he didn’t speak, LePage praised King’s life to reporters:
“Dr. King is someone who spent and ultimately gave his life making sure that people got a fair shake regardless of race. We have come far through the years, but the journey continues to make Dr. King’s dreams a reality,” LePage said. “I urge all Mainers to work as one for a better life for all.”
But while LePage said he wasn’t attending the NAACP events because they were a “special interest,” the tea party hero attended an event sponsored by different special interest group Saturday — a rally for the anti-choice Maine Right to Life Committee. As the Kennebec Journal explains, LePage’s spokesperson attempted to explain why one special interest is bad, but the other good:
LePage made his appearance at the rally one day after he told WCSH-TV that he wouldn’t attend Martin Luther King Jr. Day events in Portland and Orono because the NAACP represented a “special interest.” […]
Asked Saturday whether the Maine Right to Life Committee represented a special interest, [spokesman Dan] Demeritt said special interests inevitably would end up on LePage’s schedule.
“This isn’t about politics,” he said of Saturday’s rally. “This is about supporting a group that’s worked very hard to make sure that life is a choice that everybody can make.”
Apparently LePage does not think it’s worth supporting the NAACP, a different group that has worked very hard to make sure that everybody has a fair shot at life. And in case there were any doubts as to where LePage stands on woman’s right to choose, Demeritt said his boss “supports the idea that abortion is wrong, and it shouldn’t be a choice that anybody has to make.” “Over the weekend, LePage invited NAACP leaders to meet with him, although no time or date for that meeting has been set.”