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August 20th, 2013
06:49 PM ET

Analysis: Is Gov. Paul LePage a political liability for GOP?

In just two short years in office, Maine's Republican governor has managed to compare the IRS to Hitler's murderous gestapo, and told the NAACP to kiss his butt.

Now, Paul LePage is dodging reports that he accused the president of "hating white people." The accusation comes from "The Bangor Daily News," citing two unnamed state lawmakers who were in the room.

LePage denied the story Tuesday, telling reporters, "No, I never said that, and you guys are all about gossip."

"Any effort that Republicans are going to make for outreach are going to have to come not from the top down, but from candidates," said senior writer for The Washington Examiner Philip Klein. "They're going to have to, you know, make their own outreach efforts and try to connect with minorities."

The reason the story has gotten some legs is because it's not the first time LePage has said something fairly crazy.

Explaining the danger of BPAs in plastic bottles in 2011, LePage said, "The only thing I've heard is if you take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen. And so, I mean, worst case is some women might have a little beard."

"We know pretty well now that politicians who have sound bites like that can actually promote themselves pretty well because we all cover it," said Washington bureau chief for Time magazine, Michael Scherer.

But he is starting to be a liability, said Scherer, citing the fact that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was criticized for attending a fundraiser for LePage.

"Jeb Bush, the guy who could be a 2016 candidate, running from the center of the party, was raising money for Paul LePage who, you know, talks Hitler when he talks Obama," said Scherer. "When you're comparing anybody who hasn't killed millions of people to Hitler, you're generally losing."

The governor's spokesman is pointing to Devon Raymond, the young man LePage took into his home from Jamaica who he refers to as his son, as evidence that LePage is not racist.

"We've just seen this time, and time again from too many politicians. When it comes to President Obama, some, you know, racist thing comes out, and then they try to deny it and change the subject," said CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen.

At the end of the day, Republicans have a numbers problem, said Rosen.

"They're not going to continue to win presidential campaigns if they don't reach out more, if they don't have a broader constituency," said Rosen. "But they almost talk about it in a kind of political, inhuman way. And I think that that turns blacks and Hispanics off."

Conservatives complain that the media only covers Republicans when the say crazy or racist things, and ignore when Democrats do the same thing.

"There is a definite disproportionate amount of coverage in terms of focuses, and trying to distort everything Republicans say," said Klein.

"If one Republican says something, typically what the media does is they approach every other Republican and say, 'Do you condemn this remark?' And it sort of blows up into a bigger story that then everyone has to comment on," said Klein.

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