A governor who accompanied Gov. Christie on the campaign trail last month in New Hampshire is provoking controversy for racially charged comments.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage said Friday he made a "slip-up" after referring earlier this week to drug dealers coming into his state as "guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty." He added that "half the time, they impregnate a young white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing, becuase then we have another issue that we have to deal with down the road."
The Democratic National Committee attacked Christie in response to the remarks. "By remaining silent, Gov. Christie condones LePage's racist comments and his worldview," Michael Tyler, the DNC's director of African American media, said in an emailed statement Thursday night.
On Friday, Richard Smith, president of the New Jersey NAACP, said he hoped Christie would "disavow himself with this gentleman."
"Sometimes you're judged by the company you keep," Smith said. "At the end of the day, we need to hold folks accountable."
A spokeswoman for Christie's campaign has not responded to a request for comment Friday.
At a press conference Friday, LePage – who has a history of provocative comments – said he hadn't meant to invoke race.
"I was going impromptu, and my brain didn't catch up to my mouth," LePage said, in a video posted by the Portland Press Herald. "Instead of saying Maine women, I said white women. And I'm not going to apologize to the Maine women for that, because if you go to Maine, you'll see that we're essentially 95 percent white."
Of "D-Money" and other names he mentioned, LePage said he was citing police reports: "I didn't say anything about black … What are they, black? I don't know who they are."
LePage's remarks, which the Press Herald said were made at a town-hall meeting in Maine Wednesday night, drew national media attention Thursday. They were condemned by Democrat Hillary Clinton's campaign, which criticized the governor's "racist rants," according to a statement quoted by news outlets.
LePage has long generated headlines. Asked in 2011 about the suggestion he'd made a pattern of declining invitations from the NAACP, LePage said, "Tell them to kiss my butt." (LePage argued Friday that he'd instead told a reporter to "kiss something that you don't like.")
In 2013, the Press Herald, citing two unnamed Maine Republican lawmakers, reported that LePage told a group of Republicans that President Obama hates white people. LePage denied the remark.
Christie – who as chairman of the Republican Governors Association campaigned for LePage's reelection in 2014 – netted LePage's endorsement the day after declaring his candidacy for president.
Last month, Christie brought LePage on the first leg of a bus tour in New Hampshire, sharing the floor with the Maine governor at a town-hall meeting.
"I'll tell you one thing people have never said about me or about Paul LePage. They never said I'm misunderstood," Christie said at the meeting in Bedford, N.H.
While Christie featured LePage, "I don't think most people put that together," said Wayne Lesperance, a political science professor at New England College in Henniker, N.H. "I don't think there's any real impact" on Christie.
But if the two governors were to campaign together again, Christie would likely face questions, and there "would certainly be an awkward moment," Lesperance said.