Avid Donald Trump ally Carl Paladino claimed his racist insults about President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle were never meant to be sent to Buffalo weekly Artvoice. The former New York gubernatorial candidate said he meant to send the statements to his friends instead.
The New York businessman said he never intended "to hurt the minority community" but maintained he is "certainly not a racist". Paladino, who is a member of the Buffalo Board of Education, said in a statement that he would not heed calls for his resignation despite facing intense backlash for his remarks.
"No, I'm not leaving the school board, not when it's the to help implement the real choice elements of Trump's plan for education reform," he said, according to The Hill.
"I've spent years dedicated to the mission to defeat the thought that the liberal progressive elitist establishment can continue to hold our minority children captive in the cycle of poverty simply to provide their voting base. I don't intend to yield to the fanatics among my adversaries. I certainly am not a racist."
Paladino's comments that he wished the president would die of mad cow disease in 2017 and that Michelle Obama "return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe" was condemned by Trump's team. Trump spokeswoman Jessica Ditto called the remarks "absolutely reprehensible" and said "they serve no place in our public discourse."
On Tuesday (27 December), Republican Congressman Peter King of New York said Trump should consider severing ties with Paladino. "What [Paladino] said was disgraceful and irresponsible," he told Newsday. "There's no way that humour."
"You can say things that are politically incorrect," King added. "You can say things that you consider dark humour. But, no, that was totally disgraceful really. If they don't sever him now, they have to say that one more time like that and you're gone."