LePage, Ron Paul meet during unannounced ‘meet-and-greet’

Posted Jan. 28, 2012, at 4:54 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 28, 2012, at 9:27 p.m.

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Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, speaks during a campaign stop at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012.
Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, speaks during a campaign stop at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage met briefly with Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul on Friday in the midst of the White House hopeful’s two-day campaign swing through Maine.

Adrienne Bennett, spokeswoman for LePage, said the roughly 30-minute meeting took place in the governor’s State House office about 4 p.m. Friday. Paul was in between a 2 p.m. event in nearby Waterville — the town where LePage served as mayor before being elected governor — and an evening event in Lewiston, which is the governor’s hometown.

Bennett said she was not present at the time and was not familiar with what the two men discussed. But she said LePage reached out to Paul “as a courtesy” to supporters of the governor who had urged him to contact the congressman during his visit to Maine.

“It was a meet-and-greet,” Bennett said. “The governor was asked by supporters to meet with Ron Paul.”

Jesse Benton, Paul’s campaign manager, told CNN that the meeting went well. LePage, an unabashed conservative with strong ties to business, has yet to endorse anyone in the race for the GOP presidential nomination.

Paul, 76, is a congressman from Texas who has developed an enthusiastic following for his staunchly libertarian viewpoints and his constant emphasis on the perceived loss of personal freedom in the era of “big government.”

He is the first serious presidential hopeful to visit Maine this year, kicking off his two-day tour with an event in Bangor. On Saturday, the congressman was expected to hold events in Gorham and Freeport before wrapping up his visit with a 5 p.m. stop in Alfred.

Paul has yet to win a primary and consistently polls behind the three other GOP contenders: former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. But Paul is hoping to pick up some of Maine’s 24 delegates because, unlike in other states with winner-takes-all systems, delegates in Maine can be divided among candidates.

Although often popular among college-age students, Paul drew sizable crowds of people of all ages to his events in Maine — so sizable, in fact, that the hotel conference room where he spoke in Lewiston in Friday night had to be expanded to accommodate the crowd, according to news reports.

Paul also enjoys strong support among constitutionalists and some members of the tea party movement, a group credited with helping LePage win the Blaine House in November 2010.

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