AUGUSTA — Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell says Maine’s Republican governor is wrong to criticize the state’s two U.S. senators for opposing an Affordable Care Act repeal.

Mitchell, a Maine Democrat, responded to Gov. Paul LePage’s criticism of Republican Sen. Susan Collins and independent Sen. Angus King on Thursday. He said the senators were representing the interests of Mainers by opposing the repeal, which he says would harm rural residents, the elderly and the poor.

“A large portion of Maine’s population falls within those groups,” Mitchell said in a prepared statement. “I urge Mainers to thank Senators Collins and King and to encourage them to work together, with other senators through the normal legislative process in a bipartisan effort to fix what’s wrong with our health care system.”

LePage called Collins and King “dangerous” in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Wednesday. A spokesman for LePage’s office said Thursday the governor is “not interested in responding to former members of the world’s most exclusive club.”

Mitchell was a member of the Senate from 1980 to 1995. He served as majority leader for the final six years.

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