John Catsimatidis, a prominent Republican fundraiser and supermarket mogul who’s exploring a run for mayor, went on Inside City Hall last night. In the course of his interview, the billionaire expressed a few rather interesting opinions including that the recession never hit New York, that many moderate Democrats loved Mitt Romney and that taxing the wealthy involves Nazi-style logic.
Mr. Catsimatidis brought up the Nazis when asked whether he supported higher taxes.
“Taxes are going to go up regardless. What I’m afraid of is, we shouldn’t punish any one group. Whether we’re punishing people who are wealthy,” he said. “New York is for everybody; it’s for the poor, it’s for the middle-class, it’s for the wealthy. We can’t punish any one group and chase them away. We–I mean, Hitler punished the Jews. We can’t have punishing the ‘2% group’ right now.”
This remark surprised Inside City Hall host Josh Robin.
“Wait, so you see like raising taxes as the same as putting people in gas chambers?” Mr. Robin asked.
Mr. Catsimatidis elaborated that he simply doesn’t believe in selectively “punishing” a small segment of society.
“No, no, I didn’t say that. I said we cannot pick any group and punish that group,” Mr. Catsimatidis said. “I think the rich should pay more in taxes, I agree with that 100 percent, but everybody should feel the pain a little bit.”
Mr. Catsimatidis has said he wouldn’t pursue the Republican nomination if NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly is in the race. Last night, he continued to praise Mr. Kelly including claiming the city’s top cop and Mayor Michael Bloomberg prevented New York from feeling the impact of the national recession.
“What we need in this city is leadership. In the last 10, 12 years we’ve had Bloomberg and we’ve had Ray Kelly. Billions of dollars have been flowing into New York because of their leadership. New York never felt the recession. New York never felt a depression,” said Mr. Catsimatidis.
The businessman was also asked about his staunch support of Mitt Romney. Though Mr. Romney was unable to get 20 percent of the city’s vote, Mr. Catsimatidis claimed the Republican presidential candidate was supported by the vast majority of the “Clinton Democrats” he knew.
“I was a Mitt Romney Republican because he was pro-business.” Mr. Catsimatidis said. “The business community has to do well for the residential community to do well, and I firmly believe it. That’s why all of the bankers in New York were for Mitt Romney, all of Wall Street was for Mitt Romney, all the people that we know that were ‘Clinton Democrats,’ 90 percent of them were for Mitt Romney.”
Mr. Robin also asked Mr. Catsimatidis about his declarations that President Obama’s high level of support among black voters was “racist.”
“If I’m running, whether I’m Italian or whether I’m Greek, I don’t expect an Italian to get 95% of the Italian votes. It was just a point of order. I don’t expect an Irish guy to get 95% of the Irish votes,” Mr. Catsimatidis explained. “I think we should vote for issues, not for the color of his skin or the person’s ethnic background. I was just surprised and I made an issue of it. There’s one thing I always do, I always tell the truth.”
As far as whether he’ll actually run, Mr. Catsimatidis said he would only enter the race if he thinks he will win. To that end, he has started an exploratory committee and hired some staffers.
“Once we get rolling–and we’ll probably get rolling in early January with the staff that we’re hiring, I would say it would take 60, 90 days to come up with where we’re going to be,” he said.
It certainly sounds like we haven’t heard the last of the outspoken Mr. Catsimatidis.