Gov. Paul LePage of Maine has a deep-seated, personal opposition to domestic violence and abortion. For the first time, he has revealed the dark, painful story that helped cement those convictions.
On Wednesday, the pro-life governor told a local sports program that his abusive father beat his mother so severely when she was pregnant that she lost their unborn child.
“I remember, my dad, being about 10 years old, my dad kicking my mother seven months pregnant. A week later, it’s a stillborn,” the governor told WJJB-FM. “I blame my dad. End of story. End of story.”
The hosts of “The Morning Jab,” Dave “Shoe” Schumacher and Joe Palmieri, responded with shocked silence.
Gov. LePage's mother, Teresa, gave birth to a stillborn daughter, Marie, but the governor never disclosed the abuse until this week.
His sister, Diane Saindon, told the Portland Press Herald that she was too young to remember the specific incident, but affirmed that their father “beat [my mother] through all her pregnancies, when she was pregnant with all of us.” The governor told WJJB that his father, a mill worker, “routinely beat my mother, and when we tried to intervene, we got it, too.”
After one extreme episode that left him writhing on the floor LePage, the oldest of 18 children, said he left his home in Lewiston at age 11 and spent two years homeless. Overcoming a lack of English skills (his first language is French), he worked his way up through the business world before becoming mayor of Waterville and, in 2010, governor of Maine.
As governor, he has placed fighting cruelty to women, and unborn children, at the center of his administration.
LePage was on the radio program to discuss a letter he sent to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, saying he would not attend or watch football games until Ray Rice received a full suspension for punching his then-fiancee in February. “Taking thugs and wife-beaters off the field may be bad for business, but you are playing games with people's lives,” LePage wrote.
Although he urged all 50 governors to join his effort, only one, Gov. Gary Herbert of Utah, sent a letter of his own. Goodell later lengthened the two-game suspension.
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The pro-life Republican was elected governor in 2010 with 38 percent of the vote, pledging to be a regular thorn in the side of President Obama. He has been derided as a “wingnut” by social liberals but won plaudits from the right to life movement for his commitment to saving the defenseless.
In 2012, LePage signed a budget defunding a Planned Parenthood affiliate, the Family Planning Association of Maine (Maine FPA), denying the group $400,000 in state funds.
Last week, he strongly opposed an effort by state health officials to enforce a Do Not Resuscitate order against a one-year-old girl against her family's wishes. “The existing law violates the sanctity of parental rights,” LePage said, adding “the state should not override a parent’s right to make medical decisions for their own child.” Ultimately, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services relented.
LePage is currently locked in a tight three-way race for re-election. The Washington Post column “The Fix” listed LePage as the second most vulnerable governor facing election this year, behind Pennsylvania Republican Tom Corbett. Independent Eliot Cutler and Democratic U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud agreed last month that the state Medicaid program, MaineCare, should pay for abortion. Michaud, who recently announced that he is homosexual, campaigned as a “pro-life Democrat” when he first ran for Congress in 2002.
Governor Paul LePage
The Blaine House
192 State St.
Augusta, ME 04330