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AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) -- Republican Gov. Paul LePage is defending his stance on Social Security after coming under fire from his political opponents for characterizing the program as "welfare."

In a campaign video, LePage pledges to preserve and protect the Social Security system. He also attacks Democratic challenger Mike Michaud for voting to tax some Social Security recipients.

LePage's political foes criticized a news release from his office that called Social Security, Medicare payments and other benefits "welfare, pure and simple." Republicans say the comments were taken out of context.

Michaud spokeswoman Lizzy Reinholt said in a statement that LePage is trying to backtrack from his comments and "Mainers won't be fooled."

She points to LePage proposals to cut funding for assisted living facilities and eliminate a program that helps older adults pay for medication.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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