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GOP governor primary heats up as Graham airs TV ads criticizing Robinson over Holocaust posts

Salisbury attorney Bill Graham has launched two TV ads criticizing Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson over his Facebook posts about the Holocaust
Bill Graham campaign
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Salisbury attorney Bill Graham has launched two TV ads criticizing Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson over his Facebook posts about the Holocaust

Salisbury attorney Bill Graham, who is challenging Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson in the Republican primary for North Carolina governor, on Tuesday released his second commercial within a week that criticizes Robinson over social media posts he’s made about the Holocaust.

The first commercial focuses on the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel and then mentions some of Robinson’s inflammatory Facebook posts he made in 2017 and 2018.

Graham, who narrates the ad, says that Robinson “suggested the Holocaust isn’t real, downplayed the Nazis and promoted Hitler propaganda. That’s just plain wrong.”

The second ad goes into more detail about Robinson’s posts, which were made before Robinson entered politics four years ago.

In one, from 2017, Robinson wrote about the victims of the Holocaust — but put "six million Jews" in quotes.

Graham also criticizes Robinson for a 2018 post in which he wrote about the “foolishness about Hitler disarming millions of Jews and then marching them off to concentration camps is a bunch of hogwash.”

The full post was about how, in Robinson’s view, the liberal Weimar Republic — not Hitler — enacted gun control in the 1920s that disarmed Jews.

Graham said the comments should be disqualifying.

“If this guy is nominated by the Republican Party I will guarantee a loss and (Democrat) Josh Stein will be the governor for the next four years,” he said. “And we will lose the conservative future that we desperately need.”

Graham added that “this is the kind of thing you’d hear from someone running the country of Iran.”

Graham, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2008, has said he will spend $5 million on his own money in the race.

Robinson also has made more recent inflammatory comments about the LGBT community, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the role of women in society.

Asked for a response, Robinson’s campaign did not directly address specific social media posts.

In a statement, it said that Graham is “regurgitating the same dishonest lies the Democrats use because the Republican primary is over and he can’t handle it. Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson stands with Israel and the Jewish people –- and he’s never questioned the Holocaust.”

Last summer, Robinson’s campaign criticized Democratic candidate Stein for saying that the lieutenant governor was a Holocaust denier. The campaign said Robinson is a “passionate advocate for educating the public on the evils of the Nazis and the Holocaust.”

In November, Robinson took a trip to Israel to show what he said was his support for the country. Robinson’s communications director, Mike Lonergan, added that Robinson’s trip to Israel allowed him to see “firsthand what the Israelis are up against.”

Graham said that trip was “window dressing.” Republican State Treasurer Dale Folwell, who is also running for governor, also criticized Robinson’s comments on the Holocaust.

Polls in the race have shown Robinson has a large lead.

A Jan. 8 poll by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling in Raleigh found Robinson with 55% support from likely Republican primary voters. Graham had 15% and Folwell had 7%.

A version of this news analysis originally appeared in the Inside Politics newsletter, out Fridays. Sign up here to get it first to your inbox.

Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.
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