Carl Paladino, the tea party-backed underdog victor in last night’s Republican gubernatorial primary in New York, appeared on CNN this afternoon, and spent most of the time explaining his opposition to the proposed Cordoba House Muslim community center near Ground Zero. Host Rick Sanchez grilled Paladino on the legal grounds for his pledge to, if elected, use eminent domain to stop the project. And Paladino ended up defining the area in which he would prohibit projects like Cordoba House. Anywhere where the pulverized remains of 9/11 victims settled, he said, should be off limits to projects like Cordoba House.
First, Sanchez asked Paladino to explain his opposition to the project (he’s called the proposed center a “monument to those who attacked America”) and its leaders.
“I’m talking about an Imam who made prior statements about bringing in sharia law to America, and having the Muslim community practice under the American constitution their sharia law,” Paladino said. “That’s not kosher for us.”
Sanchez asked where Paladino’s assertions about Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf came from.
“Where do you get the information that says that he wants everyone killed who doesn’t believe the way he believes?” Sanchez said.
“I’ve read reports of his prior writings which talk about introduction of sharia law,” Paladino responded. “That’s what sharia law says, sir.”
How would he employ eminent domain to “seize the site,” Sanchez wanted to know.
“Let me correct on that, ok? That was a partial misstatement on my part,” Paladino said. “We will go in there and we will put a restrictive covenant on the property and all of the property in the Ground Zero site.”
Then he defined what he meant by Ground Zero:
“Ground Zero for me is the extended site over which the dust cloud containing human remains traveled,” he went on. “That Ground Zero site will be protected in the memory of those who fell at the World Trade Center, as well as the memory of the thousands and thousands of soldiers — of American and Allied soldiers — that fell in the ensuing wars, and the 150,000 troops we still have over there defending our right to speak like this today.”
After a commercial break, Sanchez asked him to specify just what he meant about the dust cloud.
“That was a vast [dust cloud] — if you recall — it stretched all the way to Weehaken, to parts of Hoboken, miles from where this thing happened.” Sanchez said.
“Well I don’t think it went out that far. It went out about a quarter of a mile, I think,” Paladino said, before adding. “Well, I don’t know the exact distance, I don’t mean to make out that I know the exact distance. But wherever it went, wherever that dust is caught in the crevices of buildings or in the crevices of sidewalks, that’s human remains, and it should be treated that way. “
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com