The tea party-backed Republican candidate for governor of New York said he has no regrets over remarks in two appearances before Orthodox Jewish leaders in Brooklyn Sunday opposing gay marriage and suggesting those who back equality for gays have been "brainwashed."
"I don't regret the remark. The remarks that I made I believe in," Paladino told Matt Lauer in an appearance on NBC's "Today" Monday.
Paladino's remarks might raise an eyebrow but would be little cause for surprise coming from a Republican candidate for governor of Arkansas or Tennessee, but are unusually socially conservative for a candidate for the executive post in New York.
His remarks come against a backdrop of anti-gay violence that last week saw multiple arrests in New York of individuals accused of kidnapping and torturing a gay man in the Bronx and, over the past month, a rash of suicides by gay teens who faced anti-gay harassment.
Cuomo's campaign on Sunday blasted Paladino for the comments. "Mr. Paladino's statement displays a stunning homophobia and a glaring disregard for basic equality," it said. "These comments along with other views he has espoused make it clear that he is way out of the mainstream and is unfit to represent New York."
Cuomo, the New York state attorney general, led Paladino by an 18 point margin in the latest Quinnipiac University poll.