TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio congressional candidate known as “Joe the Plumber” is running a campaign video in which he suggests that Nazi gun controls contributed to deaths during the Holocaust because Jews didn’t have firearms to defend themselves.
The ad drew strong rebukes from Democrats and Jewish organizations.
In the video, Samuel Wurzelbacher loads a shotgun and fires at lemons and tomatoes placed on wooden posts. “In 1939, Germany established gun control,” he says. “From 1939 to 1945, six million Jews and seven million others, unable to defend themselves, were exterminated,” he says before ending the video by saying “I love America.”
Gun control opponents have long held that Adolf Hitler was able to seize power in Germany in part because of controls on firearms.
Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said the video was “incredibly offensive.” He called on Republicans and Democrats to condemn “the despicable actions of this very desperate man.”
“Using the memories of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust to make a political point is never appropriate, under any circumstances,” said David A. Harris, president of the National Jewish Democratic Council.
Wurzelbacher also said in the video that gun control laws in Turkey preceded the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians from 1915 to 1917.
He defended his statements Wednesday, saying that he did not say that gun control caused the Holocaust. He accused liberals of twisting his words for political gain.
Wurzelbacher, running as a Republican in Ohio’s 9th district, became known as “Joe the Plumber” after questioning Barack Obama about his economic policies during the 2008 presidential campaign.