BY AARON RUPAR – – – –
Hours after appearing alongside Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump while he made his New York victory speech, Trump surrogate Carl Paladino likened President Obama to a “raccoon in the basement,” a racial slur that promptly reminded people why he was such an unpopular candidate for governor in 2010.
Paladino, a real estate developer turned Tea Party darling, spent a good portion of his four-and-a-half minute interview with David Greene leveling racially charged attacks against President Obama, who he described as “a man who in every respect looks like he despises America.”
“He’s so into himself, he can’t help himself,” Paladino continued. “How did a guy like this rise to that point of being president of the wonder of history and the world?”
Paladino concluded the interview by explaining that “people who get on the Trump bus are people that are very, very frustrated with their government as it’s been,” before taking one last especially racially loaded shot at Obama.
“It doesn’t matter what kind of person is the exterminator, they want the raccoons out of the basement,” Paladino said as Greene promptly ended the segment.
Back while he was running for governor in 2010, WNYmedia.net broke news that Paladino “regularly forwarded pornography and racially degrading material to friends on the Internet.” Included among his racially degrading messages was “a photo of dancing African tribesmen entitled ‘Obama Inauguration Rehearsal’ [and] a photo of President Obama and the first lady doctored to simulate a 1970s pimp and prostitute.”
Paladino also generated the wrong sort of headlines for saying he’d transform some New York prisons into dormitories for welfare recipients, where they could work in state-sponsored jobs, get employment training and take lessons in “personal hygiene.” Despite scoring a surprising victory in the Republican primary, Paladino went on to get trounced by Democrat Andrew Cuomo by a margin of 63 percent to 34 percent.
In recent weeks, Paladino emerged as one of Trump’s most visible surrogates in the Empire State. He claimed to have scheduled Trump’s campaign appearance throughout the state and was described by Greene as Trump’s “honorary campaign co-chair in the state of New York.”
Paladino called the ThinkProgress newsroom to directly make the case that he didn’t mean for “raccoon” to be taken as a racial slur.
“Raccoons represent thievery, they don’t represent race,” Paladino said. “The rest of the world hasn’t interpreted it in the way you did.”
In fact, the use of “coon” and “raccoon” as a racial slur has a history going back to the minstrel shows that were popular in America in the decades before the Civil War. For a detailed history, read this Ferris State University article on “The Coon Caricature.”