Weiner wants opponent to rebuke Paladino

Weiner wants opponent to rebuke Paladino
By Anna Gustafson

U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) sent a letter last week to his GOP challenger, Bob Turner, calling on him to condemn Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino’s reported statement comparing state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) to Hitler.

“In the past few months, we have seen a frightening rise in hateful speech and anti-Semitism across the country,” Weiner wrote in his letter. “The candidate that you pledged to support for governor, Carl Paladino, has compared Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to Hitler, saying, ‘If I could ever describe a person who would fit the bill of an Antichrist or a Hitler, this guy is it.’ This kind of hateful, poisonous rhetoric has no place in our democracy.”

Paladino, who won last week’s Republican primary and has been cheered by the Tea Party, has denied making this comparison. He is running against Democratic state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

The Niagara Gazette first reported Paladino likening Silver to Hitler and wrote he said this during a public forum in upstate New York.

The report has sent waves of anger throughout the Jewish community, and a group of Orthodox Jews recently protested against Paladino on the steps of City Hall.

A spokesman for Turner, his son Matthew Turner, said they are working on a letter in response to Weiner but will not issue that until they confirm the letter they received at their office from Weiner is actually from his campaign. A spokeswoman for Weiner told TimesLedger Newspapers it is from his campaign.

“There is no return address and the front address is handwritten,” Matthew Turner wrote in an e-mail. “Until we can verify that this is indeed from Congressman Weiner’s office, we are in no rush to comment. If Congressman Weiner is so anxious for a response from my father regarding Paladino, a man that Bob Turner has met only once and has not yet endorsed, I suggest he call my father’s office and confirm he himself wrote it.”

The 9th Congressional District Weiner represents and for which Turner is vying covers Bayside, Briarwood, Elmhurst, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Hillcrest, Howard Beach, Jamaica Hills, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Oakland Gardens, Ozone Park, Rego Park, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, Rockaway Park, Rockaway Point, Woodhaven and parts of Brooklyn.

In his letter, Weiner criticized Bob Turner for praising Paladino.

“For a candidate that you said is ‘dynamic’ and who would be ‘a forceful leader,’ this kind of language is wildly inappropriate and hurtful,” Weiner wrote of Paladino’s comparison.

Matthew Turner said his father had made statements “something similar” to what the letter stated after a member of Weiner’s camp asked Bob Turner during a town hall if he supported Paladino or former GOP candidate Rick Lazio.

“He basically said he admired Mr. Lazio for being a man of principle and integrity,” Matthew Turner wrote in an e-mail. “He did not endorse either candidate.”

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.