Maine Gov. LePage apologizes for leaving lawmaker vile voicemail

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A Short History of Gov. LePage's Controversial Comments

Maine's shoot-from-the-lip Gov. Paul LePage had to apologize again Friday—this time for leaving a vile voicemail during which he challenged a lawmaker to "prove that I'm a racist."

"I've spent my life helping black people and you little son-of-a-b—, socialist (expletive)," he told Rep. Drew Gattine in a voicemail obtained by NBC News and acknowledged by his office. "You ... I need you to, just friggin. I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you."

Later, in an interview with the Portland Press Herald and a local TV station, LePage called Gattine a "snot-nosed runt" and said he wished it was 1825 so they could duel.

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Maine Gov. Paul LePage speaks before introducing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at campaign stop, Thursday, March 3, 2016, in Portland, Maine.(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
MEXICO, ME - MARCH 22: Gov. Paul LePage holds a town hall-style meeting in Mexico, Maine. (Photo by Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump shakes hands with Maine Governor Paul LePage (R) after LePage introduced him at a campaign rally in Portland, Maine March 3, 2016. REUTERS/Joel Page
PORTLAND, ME - DECEMBER 8: Gov. Paul LePage signals that he is done with answering questions during a 'town hall' session at the Abromson Center at the University of Southern Maine on Tuesday, December 8, 2015. (Photo by Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
PORTLAND, ME - DECEMBER 8: Gov. Paul LePage brings his town hall tour to Portland, speaking at the Abromson Center at the University of Southern Maine on Tuesday, December 8, 2015. (Photo by Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
PORTLAND, ME - DECEMBER 8: Gov. Paul LePage brings his town hall tour to Portland, speaking at the Abromson Center at the University of Southern Maine on Tuesday, December 8, 2015. (Photo by Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
PORTLAND, ME - DECEMBER 8: Gov. Paul LePage brings his town hall tour to Portland, speaking at the Abromson Center at the University of Southern Maine on Tuesday, December 8, 2015. An audience member holds up a sign as Gov. LePage leaves the room. (Photo by Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
LEWISTON, ME - OCTOBER 13: Gov. Paul LePage waved goodbye to the audience after holding a town hall style forum at the Regional Technical Center at Lewiston High School Tuesday, October 13, 2015. The Governor addressed issues of education, minimum wage, gun control, and more. (Photo by Gabe Souza/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
SACO, ME - SEPTEMBER 19: Governor Paul LePage cuts the ceremonial ribbon during the Riverwalk bridge dedication ceremony in Saco, ME on Saturday, September 19, 2015. (Photo by Whitney Hayward/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
PORTLAND - JUNE 3: Governor Paul LePage speaks about a grant from the Maine Department of Corrections to fund the Building Alternatives program at Learning Works. (Photo by Gordon Chibroski/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, ME - JANUARY 7: At the end of his inauguration speech, Gov. Paul LePage waves to the crowd at the Augusta Civic Center on Wednesday, January 7, 2015. (Photo by Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, ME - JANUARY 7: Sen. Pres. Michael Thibodeau administers the oath of office to Gov. Paul LePage while First Lady Ann LePage looks on during his inauguration at the Augusta Civic Center on Wednesday, January 7, 2015. (Photo by Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, ME - JANUARY 7: After taking the stage, Gov. Paul LePage acknowledges cheers from the crowd during his inauguration at the Augusta Civic Center on Wednesday, January 7, 2015. (Photo by Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
LEWISTON, ME - NOVEMBER 5: Maine Governor Paul LePage speaks to supporters at the Franco American Heritage Center after being reelected on Wednesday, November 5, 2014. (Photo by Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
AUBURN, ME - OCTOBER 21: Gov. Paul LePage talks with Jim Wellehan of Auburn in the lobby of WMTW television in Auburn, Tuesday, October 21, 2014, following the final of six gubernatorial debates. (Photo by Gabe Souza/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, ME - OCTOBER 15: Current Maine governor Paul LePage before the Maine State Chamber's Gubernatorial Forum at the Augusta Civic Center in Augusta, ME on Wednesday, October 15, 2014. (Photo by Whitney Hayward/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, ME - July 15: Maine Governor Paul LePage in his office at the State House in Augusta. (Photo by John Patriquin/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
GRAY, ME - JUNE 3: Gov. Paul LePage speaks at a Storey Brothers Excavating site in Gray on Tuesday. Tuesday, June 3, 2014. (Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
Maine Governor Paul LePage delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chambers at the State House in Augusta on Tuesday February 4, 2014. (Photo by Carl D. Walsh/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
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"I would not put my gun in the air, I guarantee you," he said. "I would not be (Alexander) Hamilton. I would point it right between his eyes."

Related: Maine Gov. Paul LePage Apologizes For 'White Girl' Remark

But on Friday, LePage admitted he crossed the line when he called Gattine "the worst word I could think of."

"I apologize for that to the people of Maine, but I make no apology for trying to end the drug epidemic that is ravaging our state," LePage said in a statement. "Legislators like Gattine would rather be politically correct and protect ruthless drug dealers than work with me to stop this crisis that is killing five Mainers a week."

LePage also insisted he'd challenged Gattine to a metaphorical duel—not an actual one. In the same breath, he accused the Democrat of "protecting" drug dealers.

"Obviously, it is illegal today; it was simply a metaphor and I meant no physical harm to Gattine," the governor said. "But I am calling him out to stop giving inflammatory sound bites and get to work to end this crisis that is killing Mainers, destroying families and creating drug-addicted babies, all so the drug dealers Gattine is protecting can make a profit."

There was no immediate response from Gattine. But on Thursday, just hours after receiving the phone message from LePage, he told the Portland Press Herald he never called the governor a racist.

"Obviously that message is upsetting, inappropriate and uncalled for," Gattine told the paper. "It's hard to believe it's from the governor of the state of Maine, but again, we need to stay focused on the drug problem we are facing here in Maine and cannot allow this story to be about the governor's inappropriate and vulgar behaviors."

LePage gave Gattine an earful after a television reporter earlier asked him what he would say to people who call him a racist. The question was posed after LePage talked after a town hall meeting Wednesday in North Berwick, Maine.

Related: Maine Governor: Workers From India Hardest to Understand

When LePage asked who called him a racist, the reporter said he had spoken with Gattine but did not explicitly say the lawmaker had called the governor a racist, WCBH6, the NBC affiliate in Portland, reported.

"When someone calls me a racist, I take it very seriously," LePage said in his statement. "I didn't know Drew Gattine from a hole in the wall until yesterday. It made me enormously angry when a TV reporter asked me for my reaction about Gattine calling me a racist. It is the absolute worst, most vile thing you can call a person."

LePage, however, has a well-documented history of making remarks that have been criticized as racist, insensitive and downright crude. Back in January he apologized for saying that out-of-state drug dealers come to Maine to peddle heroin and impregnate "white girls."

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