As Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) addressed the press Wednesday morning, a set of Russian nesting dolls — in the likeness of former President Bill Clinton, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and women who have accused the former of sexual misconduct — sat in front of his podium.
The former president was the largest doll on display, followed, in order, by Monica Lewinsky, the former intern who Clinton was forced to admit having an affair with; Paula Jones, a former Arkansas state employee who sued Clinton for sexual harassment; Gennifer Flowers, who allegedly had an affair with the president; and Hillary Clinton, the former president's wife.
The Bill Clinton doll is holding a copy of Lewinsky's biography, "Monica's Story," which was published in 1999.
LePage told reporters that he received the nesting dolls as a gift from a Russian when he was in Russia in 2008. The gift of dolls, he said, proved how the U.S. is "weakening" and has a negative perception among foreign nations.
"That's what they think of our leaders," he said. "And you noticed the smallest one can become the most powerful woman in the world. And frankly if the laws were being abided by inside the beltway in Washington, she would be indicted."
He added that he had "no question" that Hillary Clinton's controversial use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state put Americans at risk and that Americans "don't want her or need her to be president of the United States."
"I like to have them in my office, but I just want to show you that in foreign countries we're not always viewed upon very highly," LePage said.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has hit his opponent hard over her husband's alleged past sexual indiscretions especially in the wake of leaked audio that depicts Trump speaking crudely about women and seemingly admitting to to forcing himself upon women.
Ahead of the second 2016 presidential debate Sunday, Trump held a press conference with multiple women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual misdeeds.
LePage, too, took at shot at Bill Clinton during a radio interview Tuesday in which he dismissed criticisms of Trump in the aftermath of the leaked audio.
"The bottom line is this — is he a slime ball? I'd be the first one to say, not a guy ideally that I'd want my daughter going after," LePage said. "But I will tell you one thing — as head of state, is he going to protect our nation and fight the debt or is he going to go after interns? That's the bottom line."
During that interview with Maine's WVOM-AM, LePage also said the U.S. needs someone like Trump to showcase more "authoritarian power." On Wednesday, he walked back that statement and said he misspoke, mixing up "authoritarian" and "authoritative."
"Let me be very clear. I believe the president of the United States, Barack Obama, is a dictator," LePage charged. "I think he has failed the American people, he has not worked with the congress and what he has done is he has used the executive office to put regulations on our country that is going to take us decades to get out of."
"Donald Trump, on the other hand, is a very powerful personality, and he has a very authoritative persona," LePage continued, explaining that the GOP presidential nominee has a commanding presence.
LePage told reporters that while he supports Trump, the Manhattan businessman was actually his third choice for president.
Trump is scheduled to be in Maine on Saturday. LePage said that, should the campaign ask, he would appear with the candidate at the rally in Bangor.
The outspoken governor also had some harsh words for the press gathered in the room Wednesday as he said that he would not have called a press conference if he wouldn't have used the wrong word in Tuesday's interview.
"I have no respect for you at all," LePage said with fervor. "Make no bones about that. I think that you all live in a world of words, and your life is to destroy people."
LePage's press conference came just 42 days after he promised to never speak to reporters again following a leaked voicemail in which he had some vulgar words for a Democratic Maine lawmaker.
He accused reporters Wednesday of viewing him as a "dumb ass" — a label he said he takes as a compliment.