Gov. Paul LePage said Thursday he’s received letters threatening his life because of controversial statements he made recently about the Civil War and the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, this month.

“I’ve got a couple letters we are going to have to look at today because they are threatening to kill me,” LePage said during his weekly call-in appearance on WGAN radio with hosts Matt Gagnon and Ken Altshuler.

“Hatred is alive and well in the United States of America,” LePage said.

The governor also said threats were leveled at members of his family.

“Now they are starting to threaten my personal life and my family. This is ridiculous,” he said.

LePage’s communications office did not respond to a request for copies of the letters.

The governor’s statements come a week after he echoed President Trump in saying that white supremacists and counterprotesters share equal blame for the violence in Charlottesville on Aug. 12. During the clashes, sparked by the City Council’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, a woman was killed and more than a dozen were injured when they were struck by a car that police say was deliberately driven into a crowd of counterprotesters. The man driving the car has voiced sympathy for Nazi views.

Maine State Police spokesman Stephen McCausland declined to comment when asked if police were investigating any threats against the governor. “Matters of security of the governor is something we never talk about other than confirm that we provide him 24-hour protection,” McCausland said.

That makes state police more secretive than the U.S. Secret Service, which routinely confirms that it has received information about specific threats against the president. Last month, the resident agent in Portland confirmed that the Secret Service was looking into a Facebook post by Rep. Scott Hamann, D-South Portland, suggesting he might harm Trump. Hamann said he was being satirical and apologized, and the Secret Service decided he did not pose a threat to the president.

ACTIONS OF FDR, MORE ON CIVIL WAR

LePage has sent out notes responding to critics who have written to challenge his views. His critics say he is giving white nationalists and groups that oppose racism equal moral footing, and also objected to his statement that the Civil War was fought primarily over property rights and not slavery.

LePage stood by those positions Thursday and also suggested that if Civil War statues and monuments must be removed, then statues and monuments honoring President Franklin D. Roosevelt should also be taken down, because Roosevelt allowed the internment of Japanese-Americans in camps during World War II.

“I think we ought to denounce Franklin Delano Roosevelt for what he did to the Japanese,” LePage said. “It’s our history, folks. You cannot reason with hatred, it’s just beyond reason.”

This week on another talk radio show, LePage claimed that about 7,600 Mainers fought on the side of the South during the Civil War. Historians and war historians have said there’s no evidence to back that up, and that the figure is probably closer to 30. LePage said Thursday that 20,000 Mainers fought for the Union in the war. The actual figure is closer to 70,000.

LePage revisits the Charlottesville issue in his weekly radio address issued Wednesday, again blaming both sides for the violence while attacking the media for not condemning anti-fascist marchers.

“These leftists call themselves anti-fascists, but their techniques are right out of the fascist playbook,” LePage said. “They deprive the First Amendment rights of people who disagree with them. They use hate speech against the people they accuse of hatred.”

HISTORY OF COMMENTS ON RACE

LePage has a history of making inflammatory statements about race dating back to 2011, his first year in office, when he told a television news reporter that the NAACP in Maine can “kiss my butt.” In 2013, the governor was criticized after two Republican lawmakers reported that LePage said at a fundraiser that President Obama hated white people.

In 2016, LePage drew national media attention for comments about the race of out-of-state drug dealers who come to Maine and “impregnate a young white girl before they leave.” He later said he kept a notebook of jail photos of arrested dealers and that 90 percent were Hispanic and black.

In January this year, LePage criticized civil rights icon and Democratic U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who had questioned the legitimacy of Trump’s election.

And in an exchange with a Portland Press Herald reporter in January, LePage again took aim at the NAACP.

“The blacks, the NAACP (paint) all white people with one brush,” LePage said. “To say that every white American is a racist is an insult. The NAACP should apologize to the white people, to the people from the North for fighting their battle.”

Scott Thistle can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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