Maine Governor Stops Mid-Speech, Calls Students "Idiots"

The Governor of Maine walked out in the middle of a dedication speech at the University of Maine at Farmington. Paul R. LePage was thrown by seeing students holding protest signs. The Governor's speech begins at 5:27 on this video.

The Chronicle describes the interruption:

Mr. LePage reportedly saw the signs 15 seconds into his speech, and then began to pause and struggle with his text. After 30 seconds more, he said he was done, apologized, and left the stage.

"Thank you, you idiots out back there with the signs," the newspaper quoted Mr. LePage as saying as he left. One sign said: "LePage: Maine's Shame." The other was an environmental report card that gave Mr. LePage an F.

The Governor later apologized at a Town Hall meeting:

"First and foremost, I apologize to President Foster and especially to Theodora Kalikow for the sequence of events on Tuesday. I was humbled to be invited to speak at a ceremony to honor Theodora Kalikow and recognize the great legacy she has left the University of Maine at Farmington, as well as its faculty, staff and students.

"I am accustomed to daily attacks and ridicule from protestors, but most people are not. Neither Theo, nor the people who were gathered to honor her, deserved for this heartfelt occasion to be disrespected by smug and self-serving protestors. If they wish to protest me, that's fine: we all have the right to express our freedom of speech. But this event was not about me. I was sickened by the lack of respect displayed by two protestors holding up demeaning signs-including one with Theo's name on it-during an event that was supposed to celebrate and honor a remarkable woman who has contributed so many years to improving education in Maine.

"For more than five years, the media has flocked to events where I have been asked to speak, not to cover any good news about the events, but to disparage me over issues totally unrelated to the events. Since I am such a distraction to the media, I will no longer attend some of these public events. I sincerely hope the media will continue to attend these events and report on the good people of Maine and the many positive things they are doing for our state."

The Governor may have a short fuse. In another incident this week, he prevented the media and legislators from accessing a meeting about education. He said, "The press take seven seconds of what I say, and they make a s*** show out of it. I'm tired of it."

Maybe he just needs a vacation.

Discussion Starters:

  • Assess the Governor's apology. How does this meet and fall short of business communication principles?
  • How can presenters avoid being affected by protesters and other interruptions?