Trump ally Carl Paladino: I was ‘emotional’ when I wished Obama dead and insulted the first lady

Carl Paladino in the lobby of Trump Tower
Carl Paladino in the lobby of Trump Tower earlier this month. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Carl Paladino, who co-chaired President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign in New York, issued a lengthy statement on Tuesday amid continuing uproar over racially offensive comments he made about President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.

In a press release, Paladino apologized to the “minority community” for his remarks, which appeared in a feature that was published in the Western New York weekly Artvoice on Dec. 23. Paladino blamed the comments on an “emotional” reaction to President Obama’s handling of the situation in Syria and accidentally hitting the wrong button in his email.

“I never intended to hurt the minority community who I spent years trying to help out of the cycle of poverty in our inner cities. To them I apologize,” began Paladino, who has been a member of the school board in Buffalo, N.Y., since 2013.

Paladino, a billionaire real estate entrepreneur and former gubernatorial candidate who has reveled in a reputation for inflammatory comments, also took shots at “progressive haters” and the media in his statement.

His initial remarks were a response to a questionnaire from Artvoice that asked people what they wanted to happen in 2017 and who they wanted to “go away.” Paladino said his main desire for the New Year was that President Obama would die after contracting “mad cow disease after being caught having relations” with a “Herford” [sic]. He also wrote that he wanted Michelle Obama to go away and “return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.”

Paladino’s remarks were quickly condemned by a slew of politicians and a spokesman for Trump’s presidential transition team, who called them “absolutely reprehensible.” Even Paladino’s own son blasted the comments as “disrespectful and absolutely unnecessary.” Nearly 13,000 people have since signed an online petition calling for Paladino to be removed from the Buffalo school board.

Donald Trump and Carl Paladino at a pro-gun rally
Donald Trump and Paladino speak at a 2014 pro-gun rally in Albany, N.Y. (Photo: Hans Pennink/Reuters)

In his Tuesday statement, Paladino said he received the questionnaire from Artvoice’s Jamie Moses shortly after President Obama’s press conference in which he discussed the extensive casualties in the Syrian city of Aleppo.

“I received Jamie Moses’ emailed survey at an emotional moment after I had just listened to Obama’s statement that he regretted the slaughter in Aleppo that, in fact, resulted from his failed and cowardly foreign policy. His policy is to look the other way while innocent people were murdered and starved. I view Barack Obama as a traitor to American values,” said Paladino.

Paladino further said he was “wired up” when he answered the questionnaire and described his response as a “mistake.”

“Those survey questions provided me with the spark to vent and write deprecating humor about a bad president for whom the mainstream media continues to seek an undeserved legacy,” Paladino said. “I wanted to say something as sarcastic and hurtful as possible about the people who are totally responsible for the hurt and suffering of so many others. I was wired up, primed to be human and I made a mistake. I could not have made a worse choice in the words I used to express my feelings.”

Carl Paladino speaks before a rally
Paladino speaks before a Trump rally in Rochester, N.Y., April 10, 2016. (Photo: Mike Groll/AP)

Paladino also implied that he did not mean to publicize his response.

“I publicly took responsibility for what I said and confirmed those were my answers, but, believe it or not, I did not mean to send those answers to Artvoice,” said Paladino. “Not that it makes any difference because what I wrote was inappropriate under any circumstance. I filled out the survey to send to a couple friends and forwarded it to them not realizing that I didn’t hit ‘Forward’ I hit ’Reply.’ All men make mistakes.”

In a previous interview with the Buffalo News, Paladino did not claim his answers were a mistake. He stood by the comments and said they had “nothing to do with race.” Paladino also told the News that he made the remarks “just for” Rod Watson, one of the paper’s black editors.

“Tough luck if you don’t like my answer,” Paladino said to the paper.

In his statement on Tuesday, Paladino took shots at liberals criticizing his comments and media outlets who are reporting on the controversy.

“What is horrible is watching my family and friends react to the rabid hordes of attacking parasites we now call activist progressives,” Paladino said. “As for the vanquished progressive haters out there spewing their venom at anything that is a reminder of their humiliating defeat, irrelevance is tough to chew on. For the mean-spirited, disoriented press trying to find grounding and recover legitimacy on my back, pray that you still have a job next year because you have lost all credibility with the people,” he later added.

Paladino concluded with a vow that he won’t leave the school board and by wishing people a “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”

Yahoo News called Paladino shortly after he sent out his apology, and he declined to comment further. “The statement says it all for me,” he said. Paladino also wouldn’t say whether he has spoken with Trump about the issue.

“I can’t talk about this,” Paladino said.