New York GOP gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino on Monday said he is not homophobic and would have no problem hiring gay and lesbian people in his administration.
Paladino pushed back against criticism he received for making controversial statements about gay people over the weekend and blamed his opponent, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, for stirring up the story.
"You know, first [Cuomo] called me an anti-Semitic, now he wants to call me a homophobic," he said on ABC's "Good Morning America".
"I'm not a homophobic. I have no reservations whatsoever about gays, except for marriage," he said.
The Tea Party-backed GOP nominee also said he would have no problem hiring gays and lesbians to work in his administration.
Paladino found himself under the microscope after a speech to a group of orthodox Jewish rabbis over the weekend. Paladino discussed his stance against gay marriage and also said he does not want children "to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option. It isn't."
Trying to push back on the controversy, Paladino appeared Monday on three of the broadcast network morning news shows.
Paladino said he was talking about Cuomo's comment that he brought his children to a gay pride parade, which he said was an inappropriate decision.
"I don't think it's proper for them to go there and watch a couple of grown men grind against each other," he said on the "Today" show, adding that he thinks "it's disgusting."
Paladino was also pressed about a line in his prepared remarks that he did not recite in his speech to the rabbis. It said, "There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual."
The GOP nominee said, "I saw that remark, and I crossed it out on my sheets," suggesting an aide had inserted the phrase after he dictated general remarks to him.
Paladino has made a series of comments on the campaign trail that have led to tabloid headlines in New York.
The Buffalo real-estate developer found himself in trouble earlier in the campaign after it was revealed he forwarded e-mails containing racial jokes and sexually explicit material to associates.
He also got into a shouting match with a reporter after he accused Cuomo of having an extramarital affair during his 13-year marriage to Kerry Kennedy.
Paladino was also pressed on CBS's "Early Show" about fathering a child out of wedlock.
"I did apologize for that omission in my life and that
recklessness," he said.
Paladino again took aim at the press for his latest controversy, saying there is a double-standard against him.
"The press does not hold Cuomo to the same standards that they hold me," he said.