Donald Trump's New York state campaign co-chair has caused outrage with remarks that the Trump transition team admits were "reprehensible." When asked by Buffalo's weekly ArtVoice paper what he wanted to see happen in 2017, Carl Paladino said he wanted President Obama to die of mad cow disease—and Michelle Obama 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." The comments "are absolutely reprehensible, and they serve no place in our public discourse," Trump's transition team in a statement. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who defeated Paladino in the 2010 gubernatorial election, called the comments "racist, ugly, and reprehensible" and said the Republican had embarrassed the state, the New York Daily News reports.
Paladino denied the comments were racist, called his critics "retarded liberal people," and issued a statement attacking Obama's record. "It's about a little deprecating humor which America lost for a long time," he wrote. "Merry Christmas and tough luck if you don’t like my answer." Paladino hasn't ruled out another run for governor, though it's not clear whether he will be able even to keep the Buffalo school board seat he was elected to in 2013, the Buffalo News reports. A petition for his removal has been started and the state's top education policymaker has condemned his remarks. "I personally find it unacceptable for anyone who touches the lives of our children to speak in this manner," Betty Rosa, chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents, said in a statement. (Paladino came under fire for sending racist and sexist emails during his 2010 campaign.)