BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The son of President-elect Trump’s New York campaign co-chairman has denounced his father’s comments about President and Michelle Obama.
Carl Paladino said in remarks appearing Thursday in a weekly publication that he hoped Mr. Obama would die from mad cow disease. He called Michelle Obama a male who should be “let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe.”
Paladino founded a Buffalo development firm now run by his son, William Paladino.
The younger Paladino wrote on the company’s Facebook page that the company didn’t condone what his father said. He called the statements “disrespectful and absolutely unnecessary.”
The elder Paladino, a wealthy real estate executive and Buffalo school board member who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2010 as a Republican, confirmed to The Associated Press on Friday that he had made the comments. He said in an emailed statement they had “nothing to do with race.”
The Buffalo News was first to report the Facebook post.
Carl Paladino made his comments in response to a survey by Artvoice, a Buffalo publication that asked local artists, performers and business owners for their New Year’s wish list.
Asked what he would most like to happen in 2017, Paladino responded that he hoped “Obama catches mad cow disease after being caught having relations” with a cow, dies and is buried in a cow pasture.
Asked who he would like to see “go away,” he said Michelle Obama.
“I’d like her 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,” he wrote.
In an emailed statement to the AP, Paladino, 70, claimed his comments had “nothing to do with race” but instead reflected his opinion of the president’s performance in office.
“Merry Christmas and tough luck if you don’t like my answer,” he wrote.
As recently as August, Paladino falsely claimed Mr. Obama was not Christian, telling the New York Observer that to average Americans, “There is no doubt he is a Muslim.”
And in 2010, Paladino was criticized after it was revealed he had forwarded to friends racially charged emails that depicted Mr. Obama as a pimp.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Trump, who earlier this month met with Paladino in Trump Tower, didn’t immediately respond when asked for the president-elect’s reaction to the comments.
But Democrats and civil rights groups were quick to condemn them.
In a statement, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the remarks by his former gubernatorial opponent, “racist, ugly and reprehensible.”
“While most New Yorkers know Mr. Paladino is not to be taken seriously, as his erratic behavior defies any rational analysis and he has no credibility, his words are still jarring,” he said.
Frank Mesiah, the outgoing president of the NAACP’s Buffalo chapter, urged other politicians to publicly denounce Paladino.
“He says this stuff without anybody countering him,” he said. “By their silence, to me, they’re condoning that. They’re accepting him and his behavior.”
The White House had no immediate comment.