-- Maine Gov. Paul LePage acknowledged today that he made a verbal mistake in his recent controversial comments about drug dealers, but insisted his remarks were not racist.
"I was going impromptu and my brain didn't catch up to my mouth," LePage explained during a news conference today.
"Instead of saying Maine women I said white women," the governor said. "If I slipped up and used the wrong word, then I apologize to all the Maine women."
LePage maintained, however, this his remarks were not racist.
"I tried to explain that Maine is essentially all white," LePage added. He also said the reports he receives about drug dealers do not specify race.
"I get a report, and I hear the street names," he said.
LePage instead shifted the blame to the media, urging them to "get [their] heads out of the sand” and accusing them of being "in the back pocket" of Maine's left-leaning bloggers.
"Am I perfect? No. If I was perfect I would be a reporter," LePage said. "If you want to make it racist, go right ahead."
LePage had come under fire for what many consider racist remarks about out-of-state drug dealers. The governor made the remarks during a town hall meeting Wednesday while discussing the state's substance abuse problems.
"These are guys by the name D-Money, Smoothy, Shifty. These type of guys that come from Connecticut and New York. They come up here and sell heroin, then they go back home," he said.
"Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we’ve got another issue we have to deal with down the road," LePage added.
The comments have sparked a firestorm of criticism. A spokesman for the governor told ABC News on Thursday that LePage was not talking about race.
"The Governor is not making comments about race. Race is irrelevant,” Communications Director Peter Steele told ABC News in an email. ”What is relevant is the cost to state taxpayers for welfare and the emotional costs for these kids who are born as a result of involvement with drug traffickers.”
During his news conference today, the governor declared that he "sincerely" doesn’t like the press, and tried to shift focus to the substance abuse issues he has dealt with in office -- particularly the effects they’ve had on women and children.
"My passion and my desire is to rid ourselves of domestic violence and to get drug dealers off the street," the governor said. "I may have a slip of the tongue but my heart is to protect Maine people."
The Republican governor has endorsed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for president and has campaigned alongside him. In light of LePage's recent remarks, there have been calls for Christie to denounce the endorsement. Christie's campaign has not responded to a request for comment from ABC News.