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Maine’s governor in a tussle over TV outside his office

AUGUSTA, Maine — Governor Paul LePage, who got into a tussle with legislative leaders for having a television set running outside his office, was still staying away from his State House office in protest Friday.

But the television set had a new, less political message Friday. Ushering in Memorial Day weekend, LePage and his wife, Ann, presented an address honoring Maine’s fallen soldiers.

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‘‘Since becoming your governor, I have written too many letters of condolence to the families of the fallen. It is, by far, the most difficult part of my job,’’ LePage said in the address. ‘‘What I do hope families take from these words, however, is how deeply appreciative I am for their sacrifice.’’

It was a far different tone from a day earlier, when attention was called to what the Republican governor considers delays in passing his $6.3 billion, two-year budget and a bill to repay hospitals a $484 million debt.

The governor’s staff had been told earlier this month that running the television outside his office ­violated State House rules of decorum. ­LePage considered the rule an attempt to stifle his free speech and in protest advised legislative leaders he would vacate his State House space by July 1. He worked across the street Thursday and Friday at the governor’s mansion.

‘‘The issue is about the equipment being there, not the content,’’ David Boulter, executive director of the Legislative Council, said Friday. LePage could have run the television if he had obtained permission from the council, the bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders that has authority over State House grounds and buildings.

LePage will be out of the office this weekend as he and his wife attend several ceremonies in the state honoring Maine’s fallen soldiers. In the first, the Battlefield Cross remembrance ceremony in the State House Friday, four identification tags bearing the names of servicemen and women with ties to Maine who died during overseas operations were added to the memorial, bringing the total to 54 names.

Names read by Ann LePage included Private First Class ­Tyler Springmann of Hartland, Captain John Brainard III of Dover-Foxcroft, Staff Sergeant Jessica Wing of Glenburn, and Sergeant First Class Aaron ­Henderson of Houlton. They will not be forgotten, she said.

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