Say you’re one of the least popular governors in the country. Say the local papers have run several unflattering reports about conflicts of interest among your staffers. Say someone at a publicity event gives you an open-ended question while you’re sitting in a fighter jet simulator. What would you say?
Here’s a hint: do NOT say that you’d like to “blow up” the Portland Press Herald’s offices.
Maine Governor Paul LePage is a proudly outspoken political figure taken to insulting his opponents with crude sexual comments and telling students that newspapers are his “biggest fear”; political advisors call that “red meat for the base,” but we wonder about the wisdom of his media relations strategy.
@PressHerald Threatened? It was a joke, folks!
— Paul R. LePage (@Governor_LePage) August 9, 2013
Well, duh. But it won’t win you any of the new fans you need for re-election.
Combativeness works for popular governors like, say, New Jersey’s Chris Christie. But while “destroy my enemies” statements might poll well in certain districts, a governor generally aspires to be liked or, at least, respected by as many of his state’s residents as possible. LePage has no such goal, and any political PR pro will tell you that headlines like these tend to limit any statewide representative’s ability to, you know, govern.
LePage previously said that he might not run again; given his poor poll numbers and his repeated attempts to fit both feet in his mouth at once, we think he might be onto something.
*Photo via Associated Press/Robert F. Bukaty