Maine's governor mocks Indians, Bulgarians, and foreign workers in bizarre rant against minimum wage proposal

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First, he explained his state's heroin problem using offensive racial stereotypes. A few months later, he vetoed a proposal to pay for a life-saving drug for the state's addicts. Now Maine Gov. Paul LePage has declared "war" on a proposal to raise the state's minimum wage—and mocked the state's immigrant workers in the process.

“Already our restaurants in the summer, if you go on the coast, it’s hard to hear what they’re saying," he said of foreign-born servers at a convention for the state's Republican party, the Maine Beacon reported.


LePage continued:

You ever try to say ‘what’s the special today?’ to somebody from Bulgaria? And the worst ones, they’re from India. I mean they’re all lovely people, but it takes some – you’ve got to have an interpreter. Or how many of you have gone and tried to return something from Amazon on a telephone?” said LePage.


The governor's comments were made in the context of how a proposal to raise the state's minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020 would affect state workers. The average wage for a restaurant server in Maine, including tips, is $8.72 an hour, the Beacon says.

On the politics of the proposal, LePage declared that he would be waging a “little war” against the referendum on the ballot this November. He is currently backing a proposal that would raise the minimum wage to $10. The Beacon said LePage also, "…claimed that restaurant workers in Maine don’t need a raise, joking that his wife would be starting a second career as a waitress."


Mainers for Fair Wages communications director Mike Tipping told the Beacon the $12 would support 159,000 workers in the state.

“Governor LePage is trying to drive us apart, but it won’t work," he told the paper. "This is a common-sense measure that both helps Maine families and boosts our local economies. It’s long past time for Maine to raise the minimum wage.”


Coincidentally or not, Politico reported, LePage's remarks came several days after Donald Trump donned a fake accent during a Delaware rally to impersonate an Indian call-center worker.

Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.