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.
\u201c\ud83d\udea8 MAJOR NY ENDORSEMENT \ud83d\udea8\n\nI am proud to announce my endorsement of my friend Carl Paladino in #NY23. \n\nCarl 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. \n\n\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8\u201d— Elise Stefanik (@Elise Stefanik) 1654287977
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.
\u201cCarl Paladino, whose House bid is backed by third-ranked House GOPer Elise Stefanik, said on radio last year that Hitler is "the kind of leader we need today. We need somebody inspirational. We need somebody that is a doer, has been there and done it.\u201d https://t.co/pg24M23DNA\u201d— Eric Hananoki (@Eric Hananoki) 1654784702
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.
\u201cNo rational person says anything positive about Hitler. To say we need a leader like Hitler should be disqualifying for running for Congress. Yet, this is just another day in the GOP.\u201d— Mike Brand (@Mike Brand) 1654791739
\u201cTell us again how white supremacy isn't a problem in WNY. \ud83d\ude11 (h/t @Aaron_Lowinger )\u201d— Heidi I. Jones, Wizard (@Heidi I. Jones, Wizard) 1654799672
\u201cWhen the GOP endorses candidates that say that Adolf Hitler "is the kind of leader we need today" that's way too many red flags. \n\nI'm voting Blue to save democracy. \ud83c\udf0a\ud83c\udf0a\u201d— James Connor (@James Connor) 1654800604
\u201cThe #GOP is fully & completely a fascist party. There are no \u201cmoderate\u201d #Republicans. There are marginalized old school Republicans who are now a disappearing fringe. The rest are complicit in the fascism. \ud83c\udde8\ud83c\udde6, be forewarned about GOP-North, the #CPC. \n\n#NeverVoteConservative\u201d— Heather e^\u200b\u20111/\u200bx^\u200b2\ud83c\udf3b (@Heather e^\u200b\u20111/\u200bx^\u200b2\ud83c\udf3b) 1654803363
\u201cGot to think he might be vulnerable to a normal Republican in a primary.\n\nIf on the other hand he's the GOP nominee, and is supported by House Republican leadership, NRCC, etc., he should be hung around the neck of every Republican candidate in swing districts.\u201d— Bill Kristol (@Bill Kristol) 1654804005
\u201cCarl Paladino is a Republican candidate for NY-23.\n\nHe said Hitler is "the kind of leader we need today."\n\nLast week, he shared a Facebook post claiming the massacres in Buffalo & Uvalde were false flags.\n\n@RepStefanik endorsed his congressional bid AFTER both of these incidents.\u201d— Bend the Arc: Jewish Action (@Bend the Arc: Jewish Action) 1654791206
\u201cThe @NewYorkGOP needs to immediately condemn the blatant antisemitism of Carl Paladino.\u201d— New York State Democratic Party (@New York State Democratic Party) 1654805894
\u201cYou can\u2019t make this stuff up. \n\nCan we call the #GOP the Nazi party now? \n\n\u201cWhen someone shows you who they are- believe them the first time\u201d Maya Angelou\u201d— Madelyn (@Madelyn ) 1654811689
\u201cWho is this a\u2014hole fascist? And are there people who are actually going to vote for this man\u201d— Marty Dunleavy\u2618\ufe0f\ud83c\udf0a\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8 (@Marty Dunleavy\u2618\ufe0f\ud83c\udf0a\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8) 1654814841
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."