WALDOBORO — Gov. Paul LePage garnered applause and groans Tuesday evening when he reiterated his support for Republican Donald Trump’s presidential campaign but was briefly heckled over his administration’s handling of the drug crisis.

LePage largely stuck to his talking points on tax cuts, welfare reform, energy costs and student debt during the opening of his latest town hall-style forum. But while many in the crowd of more than 100 people appeared to be supportive of the governor’s policies, the forum occasionally turned feisty on the issues of drugs and renewable energy.

Several people heckled LePage after one questioner accused the governor of “escalating the war on drugs” rather than focusing more on treatment. Many in the crowd turned against the hecklers – one of whom yelled, “Where do you get your weed?” – as they shouted over LePage when he attempted to respond to their criticisms.

The individuals were later escorted by security out of the auditorium at Medomak Middle School.

LePage said he is trying to persuade the Legislature to fund an inpatient and outpatient facility at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham that is tied to community jails.

“You have a choice. You can pee in a cup to make sure you are clean, or you can go to jail,” LePage said. “But you can’t just say we are going to treat you and pat you on the back for the rest of your life and be there with Narcan any time you fall off of the wagon. Because guess what, some day they are going to be five minutes late.”

LePage’s recent endorsement of Trump also came up several times during the event. LePage endorsed the controversial businessman last Friday despite saying he was “not a big fan” of him earlier in February and reportedly urging his fellow Republican governors to disavow Trump and do more to prevent a Trump nomination just a week earlier.

“First of all, he’s a little bit like me. … He speaks his mind and is a businessman,” LePage said, eliciting both applause and objections from the crowd. Two people shouted out that Trump is “a racist” and “an idiot.”

“The sheer fact that he understands that $19 trillion is more than this country can afford is one reason that I support him,” LePage said.

He later urged audience members to participate in Maine’s presidential caucuses – held Saturday for Republicans and Sunday for Democrats – while reiterating that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s exit from the race forced him to “look around” for a new candidate. LePage had endorsed Christie but announced he was backing Trump hours after his friend and fellow governor endorsed the candidate.

“It was clear to me that it was not a year for a governor. The governors were not going to make it,” LePage said. “So you’ve got to look around. But there was a good solid reason why I picked who I picked in my mind. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with it.”

LePage has been holding town halls in recent months to promote his agenda and to put pressure on state lawmakers to support his policy proposals.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.