Do homosexual comments suggest Carl Paladino is out of his depth?

New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino has repeatedly provided controversial fodder for the media since his 'tea party' fueled upset win in the Republican primary.

Stephen Chernin/AP
Republican New York gubernatorial hopeful Carl Paladino marches in the Columbus Day Parade Monday in New York.

Today is National Coming Out Day – and it’s getting particular attention in the wake of several gay teen suicides and a vicious anti-gay attack against three men in the Bronx.

Which means the timing of New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino’s remarks about homosexuality Sunday might be generously called unfortunate.

Mr. Paladino, a "tea party" favorite who beat favorite Rick Lazio in the Republican primary last month, is a long shot for victory against Democrat Andrew Cuomo, the state attorney general.

But he’s continued to make headlines in a race characterized by name-calling and personal attacks. This latest flap stems from his remarks to Orthodox Jewish leaders Sunday, when he elaborated on his stance on same-sex marriage.

“I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option – it isn’t,” he said.

His prepared remarks also included a reference to “dysfunctional homosexuals” – a phrase that Paladino struck out before delivering them.

Like Christine O’Donnell, the Republican Senate candidate in Delaware who also had tea party support and was a surprise victor in her primary, he appears to be a candidate who can win over the more conservative primary voters but is struggling with a broader – and more moderate – electorate in the general election.

Meanwhile, his hot temper and controversial actions – including forwarding racist and pornographic e-mails, and a bizarre incident last week in which he accused a New York Post reporter of sending a “goon” to stake out his former mistress’s house and threatened to “take him out” – continue to provide fodder for the news media.

Mr. Cuomo’s campaign quickly capitalized on the speech, calling it an example of Paladino’s “stunning homophobia and a glaring disregard for basic equality” and using it as an example of why he is “unfit to represent New York.”

Paladino, meanwhile, hit the talk shows Monday morning to defend himself. He said he has a gay nephew and gay employees and that he has “absolutely no problem with [homosexuality] whatsoever,” just with same-sex marriage.

But his elaborations may have gotten him into even more trouble. He criticized Cuomo for marching in New York City’s gay pride parade with his daughters, telling the “Today Show" that he once stumbled on a gay pride parade in Toronto and “it wasn’t pretty.” "It was a bunch of very extreme-type people in bikini-type outfits grinding at each other and doing these gyrations, and I certainly wouldn't let my young children see that,” he said.

Paladino also lashed out at Cuomo’s campaign, which he blamed for distributing a prepared version of his remarks to the news media, which originally (and incorrectly) reported that he said, “There is nothing to be proud of being a dysfunctional homosexual.”

For a while after the primary, Paladino appeared to be closing in on Cuomo, but has since settled into a spot nearly 20 points behind in the polls.

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