Donald Trump’s New York campaign co-chair Carl Paladino isn’t backing down from offensive comments he gave in a recent interview.
Speaking with the alt-weekly Artvoice, which asked industry and Buffalo-area personalities “What do you want for 2017?” Paladino talked about President Obama catching mad cow disease from having sex with a cow, and that he would like First Lady Michelle Obama “to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe.”
In a follow-up conversation with the Buffalo News, Paladino confirmed his remarks by telling the paper “of course” he made them. Paladino also released a statement on Friday, saying his comments have “nothing to do with race. That’s the typical stance of the press when then can’t otherwise defend the acts of the person being attacked.”
Paladino has a history of making racist and misogynistic comments. During his Tea Party-backed 2010 bid for governor of New York, an email leak that detailed his vulgarities (including racist photoshops of the President and First Lady) helped derail his wobbly campaign.
Throughout the 2016 election cycle, Paladino played the role of Trump surrogate faithfully, even during the campaign’s lowest moments. During the heat of Trump’s post-convention feud with the Khan family, whose son was killed in the Iraq War, Paladino tweeted links to false conspiracy theories about the Khans’ alleged ties to Islamic extremists.
The Trump transition team did not immediately respond to an email from VICE News requesting comment on Paladino’s interview. Speaking with the Washington Post, Paladino said that he doesn’t think Trump “particularly cares what I have to say. He knows me. I was active with him, and I still am active with him.”
An immediate consequence for Paladino might be his removal from his seat on the school board of Buffalo, New York; the county’s executive has already called for his removal. Earlier in the week, Paladino drew criticism for submitting a school board proposal mandating that all Buffalo schools display photos of the President-elect.