Rep. Lee Zeldin’s campaign is attacking Democratic opponent Perry Gershon for comparing the rise of President Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler’s ascent to power in Germany.
At a February Democratic candidate forum, Gershon said he visited the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“I was struck by the parallels between the rise of Donald Trump today and the rise of Hitler back then. And I just said to myself that we have to stand up and make sure this doesn’t happen in America,” Gershon said at the Southold event, according to video posted by Zeldin's campaign.
Gershon said he decided to run for Congress after Trump’s election to “fight this wave of what could be authoritarianism. And if you look at what’s happened recently, it’s sure seeming to go that way. So I’ve decided the best way I could fight the battle is: I could challenge Lee Zeldin for the office.”
Gershon, a commercial real estate lender, switched his voter registration from Manhattan to his family’s second home in East Hampton last year to run for Congress against Zeldin, of Shirley, a Republican seeking his third term. He won a five-way Democratic primary last month.
Zeldin’s campaign spokesman called the comparison “unhinged,” while Gershon's said Zeldin has failed to be a check on the chief executive.
“It is appalling to compare the rise of President Trump to the rise of Adolf Hitler, the leader of the Nazi Party who ordered the systematic killing of millions of Jewish people and other innocent people,” Zeldin spokesman Chris Boyle said. “This is the type of unhinged rhetoric that should disqualify Gershon from running for any office.”
Gershon spokesman Phil Shulman said, "Donald Trump's disregard for our institutions, his belittling of our intelligence and law enforcement community, as well as the press, and his insistence that the rules do not apply to him have been troubling from Day One.”
He said Zeldin and other members of Congress have “enabled this behavior by abdicating their responsibility to be a check on the executive branch.”
Both Zeldin and Gershon are Jewish.
Zeldin, who represents the First Congressional District, which covers eastern Long Island, has become a staunch ally of Trump, holding campaign kickoff events with former Trump aides Sean Spicer and Sebastian Gorka and a fundraiser with former Trump adviser Steve Bannon.
Donald Trump Jr., who is headlining another fundraiser for Zeldin in August, tweeted out Gershon’s comments and said: “How sick and deranged does someone has to be to compare POTUS to a madman who ruthlessly slaughtered millions of people?”