Carl Paladino, a top Donald Trump ally and former New York gubernatorial candidate, is facing an uproar over remarks he made about the Obamas that have been widely denounced as racist.
Paladino is an upstate businessman from Buffalo who, in many respects, led Trump's campaign efforts in his home state of New York. And he has remained close to the Queens native, meeting with him at Trump Tower earlier this month.
It is because of that relationship that Paladino's racially charged remarks to a weekly newspaper in Western New York are causing such an uproar.
When asked by Artvoice, an alt-weekly newspaper in Western New York, what he would most like to happen in 2017, Paladino used graphic language.
"Obama catches mad cow disease after being caught having relations with a Herford. He dies before his trial and is buried in a cow pasture next to Valerie Jarret (sic), who died weeks prior, after being convicted of sedition and treason, when a Jihady cell mate mistook her for being a nice person and decapitated her," Paladino emailed to Artvoice.
Then, Paladino was asked what he would like to see go away in 2017.
"Michelle Obama," Paladino said. "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."
Paladino does not deny saying any of this and issued a lengthy statement.
"It has nothing to do with race. That's the typical stance of the press when they can't otherwise defend the acts of the person being attacked," Paladino's statement read in part. "It's about 2 progressive elitist ingrates who have hated their country so badly and destroyed its fabric in so many respects in 8 years."
Paladino then goes on about how much he despises the Obamas and how they are terrible people.
At the end, Paladino seems to refer to his comments as a "little deprecating humor."
He finished his statement by saying "Merry Christmas and tough luck if you don't like my answer."
Paladino also spoke to NY1's sister station, Time Warner Cable News Buffalo, about his remarks. He defended them, and said he is not a racist.
"That's what people say not having any other defense for the issue at hand. I hear it constantly. I'm a racist for pleading for 33,000 kids we have in our municipal school system and trying to do something right for them?" Paladino said. "So don't go accusing me of being a racist because I'm about as far from that as possible and that's why I feel I can say these things that I say."
Paladino is a member of Buffalo school board, which is what he was referring to when talking about advocating for children. He faced immediate calls for his resignation.
At the time of the interview, the Trump transition team had not yet weighed in on Paladino's remarks. Paladino said he expected that they would not make a big deal about it. He said he was sure that Trump is going to say "that’s Carl being Carl."
However, in a statement, Trump's team denounced the remarks.
"Carl's comments are absolutely reprehensible and they serve no place in our public discourse," said Jessica Ditto, a spokeswoman for Trump.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo weighed in in a statement, saying Paladino has a "ongoing history of racist and incendiary remarks." Cuomo said New Yorkers know not to take Paladino seriously, but that his words are still quite jarring.