Carl Paladino, a wealthy New York developer and honorary co-chair of Donald Trump’s campaign, is receiving a hail of criticism for making racist and hateful comments about President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, USA Today reports.
The weekly publication Artvoice surveyed several prominent Buffalo, New York residents about their hopes for 2017. In remarks that appeared Thursday, Paladino said he hopes the president catches mad cow disease.
He then attacked the first lady, calling her a male who should be “let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla,” Artvoice reported.
Paladino, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for New York governor and sits on the Buffalo School Board, faces backlash from his own family.
William Paladino, who operates the family’s development firm, criticized his father’s comments, calling them “disrespectful and absolutely unnecessary” on the company’s Facebook page.
According to USA Today, the Trump transition team had this to say: “Carl’s comments are absolutely reprehensible, and they serve no place in our public discourse.”
The Buffalo News said a chorus of voices in New York, from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to county officials and community organizations have denounced Paladino’s comments. Many are calling for him to resign from the school board.
But Paladino is doubling down. He confirmed his comments to The News, stating, “Yeah, I’m not politically correct. They asked what I want, and I told them.”
According to The News, the disgraced businessman issued a statement denying that his comments were racist but were instead intended to criticize Obama’s policy in Syria and for commuting the sentences of a record number of federal inmates.