Under fire, LePage comes around on MLK Day

UNDER FIRE, LEPAGE COMES AROUND ON MLK DAY…. Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) had been invited to attend Martin Luther King Day events in Bangor and Portland, but declined last week, saying he didn’t have time. When the NAACP, which had already felt slighted by the conservative governor, questioned his priorities, LePage said, “Tell them to kiss my butt.”

LePage also repeatedly referred to his adopted black son as a rationale for avoiding a discussion about his policies as governor.

Given that I wrote about LePage’s bizarre judgment over the weekend, it’s only fair to note that the governor came around unexpectedly today.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage made a surprise visit to a Martin Luther King Day event today despite his earlier assertion that critics of his decision to skip it can “kiss my butt.” […]

But today, the Portland Press Herald reports, he showed up at a Waterville breakfast in honor of MLK. “Dr. King is someone who spent and ultimately gave his life making sure that people got a fair shake regardless of race,” he said. “We have come far through the years, but the journey continues to make Dr. King’s dreams a reality. I urge all Mainers to work as one for a better life for all.”

LePage apparently agreed to attend the King breakfast the day after the “kiss my butt” story ran throughout the media in Maine, but the governor says his decision to participate in a King Day event, after saying he wouldn’t, has nothing to do with the controversy surrounding his remarks.

He added this morning, “I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”

Still, the fact that LePage showed up is at least a step in the right direction, and evidence that the loudmouth governor is not immune to public criticism.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.