Washington (CNN)New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is sticking by his supporter and fellow executive, Maine Gov. Paul LePage, amid a dustup involving a racially charged statement.
Chris Christie defends LePage, says Maine governor apologized
"I heard Paul's remarks, and frankly he's apologized for them," Christie said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," in a clip that aired Monday morning. "We can't judge people by one set of remarks they make, especially when they apologize and genuinely apologize afterwards. So from my perspective, Paul LePage is a good friend of mine, he is an outspoken guy, we all know that he shoots from the hip. And when he does that there's going to be times when he says things that even he in retrospect thinks he shouldn't have said."
LePage was one of the first officials to endorse Christie's White House bid, and Christie said he still respected his friend.
"It doesn't change a bit for me, my affection for him, my respect for him as a leader and as a person," Christie said.
LePage said last week that heroin dealers with names like "D-Money, Smoothie and Shifty" were hauling drugs to Maine and, while they were there, impregnating a "young, white girl" before they head back.
"These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty, these types of guys. They come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, and they go back home," he said last Wednesday. "Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue that we've got to deal with down the road."
The comment drew an uproar for its racially-charged language. But LePage dug in last Friday, offering an apology but blaming the media for "twisting" his words. LePage, who first swept to victory in 2010 with the tea party wave, explained that he meant "Maine women" and not "white women."
"Instead of saying, 'Maine women,' I said, 'white women.' I'm not going to apologize to the Maine women for that because if you go to Maine you will see we are essentially 95 percent white," he said. Later he clarified, "If I slipped up and used the wrong word, then I apologize to all the Maine women."