Carl Paladino, the brash Buffalo businessman who served as a co-chair of Donald Trump's campaign in New York, is facing backlash and calls for his resignation for crude comments disparaging the Obamas.
Paladino, an elected city school board member, took part in a survey by the Artvoice weekly newspaper in which Buffalo residents were asked what they wished for in 2017. In answering what he'd like to happen most next year, the former New York GOP gubernatorial candidate replied:
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 [senior White House advisor] Valerie [Jarrett], 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.
And when asked what he would most like to see go in 2017, he responded:
Michelle Obama. 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.
Buffalo School Board President Barbara Seals Nevergold said Paladino is known for his controversial rhetoric.
"What was surprising though were the direct attacks on the president and the first lady in such demeaning ways, in such tone that many have described as racist and as sexist," Nevergold told reporters, "and so those are the comments I am most concerned about because of the messages they send to our children."
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said in a statement that Paladino must resign.
"While the First Amendment of our Constitution protects the right of free speech, no matter how deplorable it may be, there can be no room in our civil discourse for such hate and anger," said Poloncarz, a Democrat. "These comments harken back to the darkest days of racism in our nation's history. Anyone who has these beliefs is unfit to hold public office and especially unfit to oversee the education of children."
But in a lengthy response sent to the media on Friday, Paladino said his comments have "nothing to do with race."
"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," he wrote.
He added that the president was "demeaning and weakening" the U.S. military and sniped at him for being a "yellow-bellied coward who left thousands to die in Syria and especially Aleppo."
He also said Michelle Obama "hated America before her husband won."
"And yes," he concluded, "it's about a little deprecating humor which America lost for a long time. Merry Christmas and tough luck if you don't like my answer."
Paladino could not immediately be reached for further comment Friday.
The 70-year-old real estate company chairman was re-elected to the Buffalo Board of Education in May, edging his rival by four percentage points.
In 2010, he lost the race for New York governor against Democrat Andrew Cuomo, after the Paladino campaign was mired in a scandal involving racist and sexually explicit emails, according to The New York Times. One message included a video of dancing Africans in traditional garb entitled, "Obama Inauguration Rehearsal."
Cuomo said in a statement Friday that Paladino's latest comments were "racist, ugly, reprehensible remarks" against the Obamas, and added that "he has embarrassed the good people of the state with his latest hate-filled rage."
Paladino, who was spotted at Trump Tower earlier this month, was one of the president-elect's earliest supporters.
He took heat in July for reportedly sending an email to a female anti-Trump Utah GOP delegate saying she should be "hung for treason" and promised to "be in your face" at the convention.