ALBANY -- An upstate Republican said Tuesday that Hitler and Mussolini "would be proud" of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's dictatorial tactics in rapidly forcing a controversial gun-control law through the State Legislature last month.
The remarks by Assemb. Steve McLaughlin (R-Melrose) were immediately condemned by Republicans and Democrats in the legislature. Later in the afternoon he called the governor to apologize and posted an apology on his YouTube page.
McLaughlin, who represents parts of Rensselaer, Washington and Columbia counties, made his initial comments at a State Capitol news conference. He and GOP colleagues ripped the Democratic governor for pushing through the bill -- which was brought to a vote shortly after it was printed.
"Hitler would be proud. Mussolini would be proud. Moscow would be proud," McLaughlin said. "He's acting like a dictator."
McLaughlin and other Republican legislators have bashed Cuomo for waiving the normal three-day waiting period between printing and allowing a vote on the bill -- which toughened New York's gun laws in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre. Cuomo used a "message of necessity," which allows an immediate vote -- and thus little public debate.
McLaughlin, said lawmakers had little time to study the proposal and were told to "shut up and vote."
Cuomo, at a news conference in Potsdam on other issues, wasn't asked directly about the Hitler and Mussolini references. But he defended the use of the waiting-period waiver, saying legislators aren't compelled to comply.
"The legislature doesn't have to vote for the bill when the governor issues a message of necessity," he said. "If they don't want to vote on a bill, don't vote. That's the very simple solution."McLaughlin, in his apology video, said he made the dictator remark in the heat of the moment.