If it seems like the public keeps learning more about Carl Paladino’s ugly rhetorical record, it’s not your imagination. CNN reported on the latest evidence.
New York Republican congressional candidate Carl Paladino told a radio host in late 2016 that Black Americans were kept “dumb and hungry” so they could be conditioned to only vote for the Democratic Party, saying, “You can’t teach them differently.” Paladino, then a Buffalo school board member, was defending himself against allegations that previous comments he made were racist and said he cared about Black people, but they had been conditioned to be a base for the Democrats.
He added at the time, “I don’t think of myself in any way as a racist.”
And while I’m sure the Republican’s perceptions of himself are quite impressive, his actual record keeps getting in the way.
Circling back to our earlier coverage, Paladino has a history of racism, homophobia, and pushing utterly bonkers conspiracy theories. More recently, the New Yorker shared a Facebook message claiming recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde were false flag operations. (The Republican soon after said he had “no idea” how the post appeared on his page.)
Two weeks ago, the public learned of an interview Paladino did last year in which he said that Adolf Hitler was “the kind of leader we need today.” (The candidate soon after tried to clarify matters, issuing a statement that he doesn’t actually support Hitler.)
Now, we’re confronted with a related story in which Paladino argued publicly that rascally Democrats have somehow kept Black Americans “dumb and hungry,” which can’t be undone since, in the GOP candidate’s mind, Black people can’t be taught otherwise.
I have a hunch this won’t be the last such story to come to the fore between now and Election Day.
Part of what makes this notable — aside from the obvious offensiveness of Paladino’s unsubtle racism — is the degree to which the New York Republican captures a larger political dynamic. NBC News’ Benjy Sarlin, for example, recently explained, “Paladino was an early canary in the coal mine for where politics was headed. He emailed out a bestiality video to his contact list (yes, you read that correctly) along with racist memes featuring the n-word and then won the gubernatorial nomination” in New York in 2010.
This is a good and underappreciated point. As ridiculous as Donald Trump’s rise in GOP politics may have seemed, there were plenty of hints about radical shifts in attitudes among rank-and-file Republicans. The fact that Paladino could win a gubernatorial primary in a large blue state, after voters learned about his disgusting views, proved to be a sign of things to come.
Indeed, let’s not brush past the fact that during Trump’s 2016 candidacy, his political operation tapped one man to oversee the campaign in the state of New York: Carl Paladino.
But let’s also not forget that the problem is not entirely retrospective. House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik quickly threw her support behind the Paladino’s congressional candidacy, indifferent to his racist record.
When the party learned about his argument that Hitler was “the kind of leader we need,” the total number of GOP leaders who withdrew their endorsements for Paladino was zero.