Carl Paladino, a former co-chair of Donald Trump’s New York campaign and the man New York Republicans elected as their gubernatorial nominee in 2010, told a local newspaper in Buffalo that he hopes President Obama catches mad cow disease and dies, and that Michelle Obama is a man and should be “let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.”
The remarks came as answers to a questionnaire by Buffalo alt-weekly ArtVoice, which sent a harmless 4-question survey to local officials and city residents (sample question: “What would you most like to happen in 2017?”).
Reaction to Paladino’s comments were swift and universal. Lawmakers from the city called on him to resign from the Buffalo School Board (a seat he narrowly won over a high school student), Governor Andrew Cuomo called the remarks “racist, ugly and reprehensible,” and even his alma mater St. Bonaventure University issued a statement condemning him.
And while the Trump transition team also chastised Paladino’s remarks, they were far more forgiving when they appointed him as co-chair of their New York campaign despite a long, well-documented history of racism and sexism. In 2010, while running for governor, emails surfaced in which Paladino shared a video clip of an African tribal dance, describing it as the “Obama Inauguration Rehearsal;” another which referred to black people as “niggers;” and a third of a horse having sex with a woman. Many of those clips have been traced back to white supremacist sites like Stormfront. As recently as early December, Paladino sat down with Trump for a 45-minute chat in Trump Tower, exchanging gossip about state politics.
Paladino himself responded to his critics, insisting that he isn’t a racist.
“It has nothing to do with race. That’s the typical stance of the press when they can’t otherwise defend the acts of the person being attacked,” he wrote. “It’s about two progressive elitist ingrates who have hated their country so badly and destroyed its fabric in so many respects in 8 years.”