Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher is not backing down from an anti-gun-control video released by his campaign this week, but the Republican congressional candidate deepened the controversy Wednesday by saying he "wasn't talking about the Holocaust" when the video mentions 6 million Jews exterminated between 1938 to 1945.
Instead, he blamed the media for unfairly spinning the story.
"All I said was gun control was implemented, and then governments proceeded to violate human rights," Mr. Wurzelbacher said. "Nowhere did I mention the Holocaust or was I even talking about it."
In the Internet video, a narrator speaks while a shotgun-wielding Mr. Wurzelbacher loads the weapon and shoots several red and yellow balls at an outdoor firing range.
The narrator says: "In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were exterminated. In 1939, Germany established gun control. From 1938 to 1945, 6 million Jews and 7 million others, unable to defend themselves, were exterminated." Mr. Wurzelbacher, still holding the gun, ends the 40-second video by speaking directly in the camera, saying "I love America."
A day after the story broke, Mr. Wurzelbacher said he took offense to the story and headlines that said he claimed gun control caused the Holocaust.
Gun-control opponents have long suggested that Adolf Hitler was able to seize power in Germany in part because of controls on firearms.
Phil Christofanelli, spokesman for the Wurzelbacher Campaign, clarified what the candidate from Springfield Township meant with the video.
"The argument is that gun control created the environment in which it was considerably easier for Nazis and other tyrannical governments to engage in human rights abuses, so I believe the point of the video was to highlight a number of human rights abuses that were facilitated by gun control," he said. "Joe did not say the Holocaust was caused by gun control."
Mr. Christofanelli said the news story was generated by left-wing liberal blogs and picked up by the "sympathetic liberal media."
"I think it's a big difference to say gun control caused the Holocaust, which is not our position," Mr. Christofanelli said. "His position is policies like gun control are implemented by tyrannical governments."
Mr. Wurzelbacher said he made the video because he is passionate about the Second Amendment. Although he said the video has garnered "a lot of great feedback," on Tuesday the video was widely condemned by Democrats, Jewish leaders, and the vast majority of people who viewed it on Youtube.com
By Wednesday afternoon, the video titled "I Love America -- Joe on the 2nd Amendment" had been viewed almost 20,000 times.
Steve Fought, campaign manager and spokesman for U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), Mr. Wurzelbacher's Democratic opponent, dismissed the explanations and said the Wurzelbacher camp dug itself into a deeper hole.
"Joe the Plumber needs to go back and watch his own stupid video," Mr. Fought said. "He sounds like he is a stranger to personal responsibility, but he very clearly talked about what he called genocide in Armenia and the Holocaust."
Mr. Fought said subsequent comments Mr. Christofanelli made to Politicker showed a greater depth of misunderstanding of history.
Mr. Christofanelli told that Web site that gun control may have contributed to the enslavement of African-Americans in addition to the Armenian genocide and the Holocaust.
"Well, blacks weren't allowed to own guns in the South, that's a historical fact as well," Mr. Christofanelli told the Web site. "So, it would seem that the argument would apply there as well."
"[Mr. Wurzelbacher] is just surprised by how many people around the country reacted to his ignorant comments and he is trying to weasel out of it," Mr. Fought said.
Contact Ignazio Messina at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6171.