Carl P. Paladino, a Republican running for a seat in Western New York, last year praised Adolf Hitler for inspiring his followers and described the fascist dictator as “the kind of leader we need today.”
Paladino did not specifically condone Hitler’s actions in his comments, which he made in a 2021 radio interview unearthed on Thursday. But he said he was impressed with the way the German leader and head of the Nazi party “excited the crowd” in his speeches and suggested Republicans in New York and Washington should follow his approach.
“He would get there and yell these epithets and these people were just, they were being hypnotized by him,” he said in the interview, surfaced by the left-wing watchdog group Media Matters. “I think, I think that’s the kind of leader we need today. We need someone who is inspiring. We need someone who is a doer.”
“Our Republicans are fast asleep,” he added, referring to party officials as prisoners of “RINOism,” a derogatory acronym that means Republicans in name only.
The comments, for which he apologized on Thursday, were striking even by the inflammatory standards of Mr Paladino, who has previously said children should not be “brainwashed” into thinking being gay is acceptable and suggested that Michelle Obama, the former first lady, should be “released in the outback of Zimbabwe.”
They can cause major headaches for GOP leaders, especially New York Representative Elise Stefanik, the No. 3 House Republican, who has defended his fledgling candidacy.
“Carl is a job creator and conservative outsider who will be a tireless fighter for the people of New York in our fight to put America first to save the country,” she recently wrote on Twitter.
She also invited him Monday to a fundraiser at former President Donald J. Trump’s golf course in Westchester County, where the two men photographed together†
The chairman of the New York Democratic Party expelled Ms. Stefanik on Thursday when he called on Republican leaders to convict Mr Paladino for “blatant anti-Semitism.”
“How did the Republican Party bend so low to support a man who has glorified a record idolizing a monster who senselessly murdered millions?” said the chairman, Jay Jacobs.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Ms. Stefanik said she had “one of the strongest records in the US Congress condemning anti-Semitism” and that she had passed bipartisan Holocaust education legislation. But the spokesperson did not specify whether the congresswoman maintained her support for Mr. Paladino.
A Buffalo developer nominated by Republicans for New York governor in 2010, Mr. Paladino, 75, entered the House race last Friday after Representative Chris Jacobs said he would not run for re-election.
Mr. Jacobs faced an intense response from party leaders angry at his support for a ban on assault weapons and other weapons security measures, which he voiced following recent mass shootings.
Nicholas A. Langworthy, the chairman of the Republican state party, is also expected to compete in the race in the coming days as candidates face deadlines to submit qualifying petitions. His entrance would set the stage for an explosive primaries for a suburban and rural seat in the western New York House, overwhelmingly favoring Republicans.
The comments about Hitler weren’t even the first time this week that Mr. Paladino condemned his own party and was forced to apologize.
In a Facebook post and email blast sent last Wednesday, just two days before he said he would run for the House, Mr. Paladino promoted an essay by a Rochester man that cast doubt on the official records of recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas, where he claimed the alleged gunman “was given hypnosis training”.
“In almost every mass shooting, including the most recent horrific Buffalo Tops Market & the Texas school shootings, there are strange events that are never fully explained,” the man wrote, including conspiratorial references to Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide and John’s murders. F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy.
Media Matters was also the first to report on Mr Paladino’s post, which was later removed.
In an email statement on Thursday, Mr. Paladino that his invocation of Hitler was a “grave mistake and rightly upset people”, but he accused the news media of taking his comments out of context.
“Any implication that I support Hitler or any of the sick and disgusting actions of the Nazi regime is a new low for the media,” he wrote.
Mr Paladino initially denied sharing the gun control essay, claiming he didn’t know how to post to Facebook, but later admitted doing so to The Buffalo News, adding that he disagreed with all “conspiracy theories.” who quoted it.