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The Hot Mic Rule

Maine Gov. Paul LePage delivers his State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013, at the State House in Augusta.(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

photo of Reid Wilson
April 22, 2013

One might think that after President Obama and Mitt Romney got caught on a hot mic, politicians would learn an important lesson about politics: In an age of smart phones, there's no such thing as an off-the-record speech.

Five years later, Obama is still taking flack for surreptitiously recorded comments at a closed-door fundraiser on "bitter" voters who "cling to guns or religion." Romney's comments on the 47 percent of Americans who would vote for Obama no matter what -- "who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims" -- fueled the notion that Romney was out of touch with working-class Americans.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage is going to be the latest to learn that lesson the hard way. LePage addressed the Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce at an awards dinner last week, delivering what he believed would be a talk before a friendly crowd that wasn't recording him. His staff asked organizers to prohibit recording devices, according to the Bangor Daily News.

But, of course, someone's iPhone was on. It doesn't look like LePage said anything terribly damaging -- the most provocative thing on the tape is his prediction that he would become as controversial as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. (By the way, Democrats had a tracker set to tape LePage's speech, but the tracker gave his recording equipment to the event organizer, who then locked the equipment in his car. Pro tip: Handing over your recording equipment isn't an effective way of tracking an opponent.)

Still, it's another reminder that even an off-the-record conversation will get out, somehow.

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