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Republican Maine Gov. Paul LePage on Tuesday voiced his opinion on the feud between President-elect Donald Trump and civil-rights icon John Lewis, a Democratic congressman from Georgia.
In short, LePage said Lewis should give “a simple thank-you” to white Republicans from the 1800s who worked to end slavery and served in the Reconstruction period.
“How about John Lewis last week – criticizing the president,” LePage told WVOM. “You know, I will just say this: John Lewis ought to look at history. It was Abraham Lincoln that freed the slaves. It was Rutherford B. Hayes and Ulysses S. Grant that fought against Jim Crow laws. A simple thank-you would suffice.”
The Lewis-Trump feud began late last week after the Georgia congressman told NBC’s Chuck Todd that Trump was an illegitimate president and that he would not be attending the inauguration later this week. It was later noted that Lewis did not attend the inauguration of President George W. Bush after making a similar claim of illegitimacy.
A number of Democratic politicians have also announced they will not be attending Friday’s inauguration.
“The Russians participated in helping this man get elected, and they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” Lewis told Todd.
Trump then went on a Saturday-morning tweetstorm slamming Lewis, who participated in the famous Freedom Rides and fought against segregation in the South alongside Martin Luther King Jr., as an “all talk, talk, talk – no action” politician.
“Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to … mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results,” Trump tweeted. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!”
“Congressman John Lewis should finally focus on the burning and crime infested inner-cities of the U.S,” he later tweeted. “I can use all the help I can get!”
Lewis’ district encompasses most of Atlanta, Georgia’s capital and largest city. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution fired back on its front page the following day, saying Trump was “wrong” about his categorization of the city.
Trump went back on the attack against Lewis on Tuesday morning, writing about the report that Lewis skipped Bush’s inauguration.
“John Lewis said about my inauguration, ‘It will be the first one that I’ve missed.’ WRONG (or lie)!” Trump wrote. “He boycotted Bush 43 also because he…’ thought it would be hypocritical to attend Bush’s swearing-in….he doesn’t believe Bush is the true elected president.’ Sound familiar!”
LePage has gotten in hot water throughout the past year after a series of racially charged statements he’s made.
In January, he said that “guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie” come to Maine to sell drugs and “impregnate a young, white girl.”
“They come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home,” he said. “Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road.”
He gave an apology for the comments in a subsequent press conference, saying that he should’ve said “Maine women” instead of white women.
Later that month, he said convicted drug criminals should face “the guillotine.”
And in August, LePage stirred up controversy when he said that for the past seven months he kept a binder in which he inserts photos of drug dealers arrested in the state. LePage said he’s logged the photos in an attempt to justify racially tinged comments he made earlier this year when speaking about drug-related problems in his state.
“I made the comment that black people are trafficking in our state,” he said. “Now, ever since I said that comment I’ve been collecting every single drug dealer who has been arrested in our state.
“I don’t ask them to come to Maine and sell their poison, but they come,” he continued. “And I will tell you that 90-plus percent of those pictures in my book ― and it’s a three-ringed binder ― are black and Hispanic people from Waterbury, Connecticut, the Bronx, and Brooklyn.”