State official: Nation going way of Hitler’s Nazi Germany
Mourdock, who is term-limited from seeking re-election and is leaving the office at the end of this year, called the comparison his “most important lesson” as an outgoing officeholder.
“The people of Germany in a free election selected the Nazi party because they made great promises that appealed to them because they were desperate and destitute. And why is that? Because Germany was bankrupt,” he said.
Mourdock also alluded to the 70th anniversary this week of the D-Day invasion during World War II, saying, “The truth is, 70 years later, we are drifting on the tides toward another beachhead and it is the bankruptcy of the United States of America.”
His speech was intended to draw other parallels to the nation’s current direction as well.
“Over the next several years, every time a program began to fall apart, Mr. Hitler’s party was very, very good at dividing Germany by pointing to this group or that group,” Mourdock said. “First they went after their political opponents. Then they went after the aristocrats. Then they went after the trade unionists. And ultimately of course they went after the Jews. They deprived them of their property, their rights, their citizenship, and for millions their humanity. Because they were bankrupt!”
Indiana Democratic Chairman John Zody called Mourdock’s comments “ugly.”
“I have an important lesson for Richard Mourdock. Your exit as a publicly-elected officeholder in Indiana couldn’t come any sooner,” Zody said. “Not only has your Party endorsed your candidacy in the past, your ugly words don’t belong anywhere in the Hoosier political dialogue and should be derided by Gov. Pence and our state’s leadership immediately.”
Members of the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council reacted strongly in prepared statements sent in response to Mourdock’s speech.
“We are extremely disappointed to learn that Treasurer Mourdock chose to invoke the rise of Hitler and the heinous acts of the Nazis in comparison to America’s national debt. Such comparisons are highly offensive and trivialize both the suffering and memory of the six million Jews and millions of others who perished under the Nazi regime,” said Shelby Anderson, president of the board.
Stephen Klapper, vice president of the council, said it was “deplorable to suggest that a nation in debt is somehow one step away from perpetrating crimes reminiscent of Nazi Germany. And it’s outrageous to equate our nation’s legitimate public policy challenges, and the way we choose to address these issues – ideally through civil discourse and rigorous debate – with the way Hitler and his Nazi regime propagated one of civilization’s most reprehensible atrocities through lies, terror, and ultimately genocide,”
Even some Republicans criticized Mourdock’s comments.
“He owes an apology to soldiers who fought Germany, and to anyone who darned a sock or helped build a fighter for the war effort,” said Mike Murphy, a former GOP lawmaker and past president of the Marion County Republican Party.
But Allen County Republican Party Chairman Steven Shine, one of the convention’s organizers, said he thought Mourdock’s comments were “right on point.”
“I think he was showing what could happen to a nation that has a citizenry that believes life is hopeless, that there is no way out,” said Shine, who is Jewish. “I don’t think at all he was comparing Obama to Hitler under any circumstances, but (he was comparing) the political environment that could create a government that relied on a charismatic leader, rather than the freedoms that the country has.”
For some delegates, however, that point was lost.
“I don’t understand what he was trying to say,” Michael Heady said. “I don’t know what his point was.”
Mourdock seemed to understand that his comments might spark controversy.
“Now I know some of you, especially some of the guests in the room, are thinking, there’s a wild-eyed Republican speaking craziness,” he said.
But, “We are in a grave situation,” he said. “And my last duty to you as a Republican at this convention is to ask you to influence everyone you know in this state and without.”
The speech, perhaps Mourdock’s last as treasurer, brought the crowd of nearly 1,700 GOP delegates to its feet for a standing ovation.
Mourdock ran for U.S. Senate in 2012 but lost that race to Democrat Joe Donnelly, after saying during a debate that when a woman becomes pregnant during rape “it is something that God intended.”