Carl Paladino—a Republican running for the GOP nomination to replace retiring New York Republican Representative Chris Jacobs—sparked outrage after he praised German Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler as "the kind of leader we need today."
Paladino said Hitler—who orchestrated the systematic genocide of more than 11 million people including over six million Jews and millions of Romani, disabled, LGBTQ+ and critics of the Nazi regime—had an innate ability to rouse "the crowds."
House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, also of New York, endorsed Paladino's candidacy.
Paladino made his remarks in a February 2021 interview on The r-House Radio Show, which is hosted by real estate company executive Peter Hunt on a local Buffalo, New York radio station.
His words came under scrutiny after they were reported on by the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America (MMA).
You can hear his remarks in the video below.
Asked by Hunt about how to "get people thinking about the possibility of change here in New York state and what that might mean for our, for everyone here," Paladino responded with the following:
“I was thinking the other day about—somebody had mentioned on the radio Adolf Hitler and how he aroused the crowds.
“And he would get up there screaming these epithets and these people were just—they were hypnotized by him."
"That’s, I guess, I guess that’s the kind of leader we need today. We need somebody inspirational.”
After his statements came under scrutiny, Paladino released a statement denying he supported Hitler or his motives and accused the media of mischaracterizing his own words:
“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."
"The context of my statement was in regards to something I heard on the radio from someone else and was repeating, [and] I understand that invoking Hitler in any context is a serious mistake and rightfully upsets people."
"I strongly condemn the murderous atrocities committed against the Jewish people by Hitler and the Nazis.”
But these words rang hollow with his critics, who condemned him for supporting perhaps history's most notorious fascist.
More conservatives have invoked Hitler's name in recent months.
Most recently, Tennessee state Republican Senator Frank Niceley faced heavy criticism after he used Hitler as a model of inspiration and hope for unhoused people.
Niceley offered his fellow lawmakers a "history lesson" while speaking in defense of a bill to cut down on homeless encampments that would make it a Class “C” Misdemeanor to solicit or camp along highways and exit ramps as well as criminalize camping on public and state property.
He noted Hitler had chosen to hone his oratory and people skills while living on the streets of Vienna in 1910 and suggested that Hitler's story offers a powerful example of overcoming homelessness and living "a productive life."
In addition to praising Hitler's style, Paladino also shared a Facebook post suggesting the mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas were false flags orchestrated by Democrats to "revoke the 2nd amendment and take away guns."
In 2016, Paladino tweeted then-New York Attorney General Loretta Lynch, a Black woman, should be "lynched."
In the same year he stated he'd like to see President Barack Obama die of mad cow disease from sex with British cattle. Paladino also said he wanted Michelle Obama to "return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla."
His comments cost Paladino his position with the Buffalo School Board.
All of these incidents occurred before Republican Representative Elise Stefanik praised him on June 3, 2022, tweeting her friend Carl is a "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."