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Berlusconi Jokes About Hitler At Youth Rally

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ROME — Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi says young women should follow the money when looking for a partner, noting that women seem to like him and "I'm loaded."

Berlusconi, who was embroiled in a sex scandal last year and is known for his gaffes, also raised eyebrows with a joke about Hitler's followers urging him to return to power.

The billionaire businessman appeared at a convention Sunday of the youth wing of his People of Freedom party. When questioned by one of his Cabinet ministers – a woman – he joked about marriages of convenience, saying women were lining up for him because "I'm a nice guy" and "I'm loaded."

He also recalled a much-criticized TV interview he once gave, when "I said to a girl to look for a wealthy boyfriend. This suggestion is not unrealistic."

He also claimed women favor older men, thinking that "he's old. He dies and I inherit."

The 73-year-old Berlusconi was engulfed in a sex scandal last year centering on his purported dalliances with young women, including an escort. Berlusconi's wife Veronica Lario said last year she was seeking a divorce. They are now separated.

The media baron has said he is "no saint" but denied ever paying for sex.

In Italy, a divorce can only be sought after three years of separation. Media reports this summer suggested that Berlusconi's wife has rejected his early proposals for a financial settlement.

Berlusconi often gets criticized for his earthy sense of humor, and this time an opposition political demanded he apologize to Italy's Jewish community for his Hitler joke.

Before telling it, he said "I already know I am going to be criticized."

Berlusconi, who claims prosecutors have led corruption investigations against him because they are left-wing, also appeared to be poking fun at himself when commenting on the loss of his AC Milan soccer team on Saturday. He contended the referee robbed the team of three goals and that Milan often gets "leftist referees."

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