Candidate backed by GOP House caucus chair called for 'inspirational' leader like Hitler

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Rep. Elise Stefanik has endorsed Carl Paladino in New York's 23rd Congressional District.

Carl Paladino, the Republican congressional candidate endorsed on June 6 by House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik in his run for New York's 23rd Congressional District, praised Adolf Hitler during a radio appearance in 2021.

Paladino, a former Buffalo Board of Education official, said in comments unearthed by Media Matters for America that the United States needed someone like Hitler at the helm.

"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," said Paladino during an appearance Feb. 13, 2021, on a radio show on Buffalo station WBEN. "We need somebody that is a doer, has been there and done it."

Stefanik endorsed Paladino, who also served as a New York co-chair of former President Donald Trump's failed 2020 reelection campaign, despite his long history of racist and offensive comments, which have been widely reported.

During a failed gubernatorial bid in 2010, Paladino made racist comments, including depicting former President Barack Obama as a pimp and former first lady Michelle Obama as a prostitute, and circulated pornographic email chains that included images of bestiality.

In 2016, when he was an elected member of the Buffalo Board of Education, he made racist comments about the Obamas. Paladino said he wanted the former president to catch "mad cow disease," and that he wished the former first lady would "return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla."

Those comments were public knowledge when Stefanik endorsed her "friend" Paladino on Monday, saying, "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."

Paladino continues to spread lies and false accusations. Aside from his praise of Hitler, responsible for the genocide of 6 million Jews and millions of members of other ethnic, minority, and political groups, Paladino shared a rambling post on Facebook on June 1 repeating various conspiracy theories, including the suggestion that the recent mass shootings in Buffalo and in Uvalde, Texas, were false flag events staged as part of government plot to confiscate citizens' firearms.

After Paladino's praise of Hitler was reported by Media Matters, Stefanik refused to pull her endorsement, telling HuffPost: "I condemn any statement, but don't take it out of context. That is not accurate reporting."

Paladino, meanwhile, shifted blame for his comment praising Hitler onto someone else, saying in a statement printed by HuffPost: "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, 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."

Pollsters say New York's 23rd Congressional District is a safe Republican seat for which the winner of the August GOP primary will be the heavy favorite in November. The district has a 23-point Republican lean, according to FiveThirtyEight, making it the most heavily Republican seat in New York.

The seat is open after Republican Rep. Chris Jacobs decided to retire rather than run for reelection after he came out in favor of banning assault rifles in the wake of the mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo. Jacobs' support for a ban angered Republican leaders, who withdrew their support.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.