Huffpost Politics

Ken Langone Actually Not That Sorry About Nazi Comparison

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Billionaire Kenneth Langone is still defending his comparison of income inequality talking points to rhetoric in Nazi Germany, after apologizing two months ago for the comments.

In a Capital New York interview published Monday morning, the Home Depot co-founder and Republican megadonor said it was a fair analogy to illustrate how democratic elections can yield results he finds terrifying.

“I simply said just because we’re a democracy doesn’t mean you can’t have bad results,” he said. “That’s all! I stand on what I said.”

A spokesman for Langone did not respond to requests from The Huffington Post for comment.

In a March interview with Politico, which owns Capital, Langone said a GOP pivot toward the economic populism championed by progressives and by such Tea Party candidates as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz would mirror the rise of Adolf Hitler.

“I hope it’s not working,” Langone said of the political appeals at the time. “Because if you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany.”

Hours after the published quote ignited fierce criticism, Langone offered a tepid apology for the comparison, saying the remarks “were intended to discourage pitting one group against another group in a society.”

“If my choice of words was inappropriate -- and they well may have been that -- I extend my profound apologies to anyone and everyone who I may have offended,” he said in the March 19 statement.

The comparison was no outlier at the time. Other wealthy, white men made similar Nazi analogies or defended those already made.

Among Langone's chief critics at the time was Rob Astorino, the Republican challenging Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in November. He urged the governor to “repudiate” the comment, saying that it was “not what we need as dialogue in this country.”

Langone, who heads the group Republicans for Cuomo, hit back at Astorino on Monday, saying he doesn’t “think much of him.”

“We know how he feels about me,” Langone told Capital New York. “‘I should issue an apology.’ An apology for what?”

He again said he was only “speaking about a democratic process which we have.”

“My connection was we never want to put ourselves in a position as a nation where we pit group against group,” he added. “It had nothing to do with [New York City Mayor Bill] de Blasio or Cuomo or the president or anybody else. I only cited the election that took place in 1933. And I only said the product of that election was the election of an evil, horrible human being!”

Langone said Astorino recently asked him to help fundraise for his campaign, and that he "reminded [Astorino] of the hypocrisy" of asking for help two months after making public statements against him.

Astorino spokesman William O'Reilly confirmed the call to HuffPost, but wrote in an email that the campaign did not ask for money this time.

"We are not shy about fundraising, but this wasn't a money ask call. But, absolutely, the next one could have been. That's how fundraising works," O'Reilly said.

"Also, Rob will always urge officials, friend or foe, to lay off the kinds of comparisons Mr. Langone made. They are always hurtful and never helpful. Langone has clarified his remarks and properly apologized," he added. "That matter is done as we see it."

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