CHARLOTTE, N.C. California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton has a habit of making outrageous, often profane remarks one that is familiar to many Californians.
Yet he still manages to offend people and to generate national media attention when speaking out of state.
On Monday, Burton brought up Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels as he denounced Republican inaccuracies, causing a stir ahead of the Democratic National Convention's opening here this week.
"They lie and they don't care if people think they lie," Burton said before a state delegation breakfast, according to audio posted online by KCBS radio. "Joseph Goebbels the big lie, you keep repeating it."
Burton, a former congressman and state senator, was addressing claims made by Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee, in his acceptance speech last week. Independent fact checkers said the speech included several inaccurate or misleading statements.
Burton said Ryan told "a bold-faced lie and he doesn't care that it was a lie. That was Goebbels, the big lie."
The remark, picked up by several news outlets here, was reminiscent of the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, when now-Gov. Jerry Brown compared Meg Whitman's media apparatus to that of Goebbels.
Burton is a special case, however.
He said last year that major donors "can take a dump in my salad for $78-grand," and he was so foul-mouthed in an appearance on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" that correspondent John Oliver remarked, "You curse more than a West Coast rapper."
Earlier this year, Burton said the party's influence had its limits it couldn't "get a hit squad" to threaten to burn down lawyer Molly Munger's house if she refused to pull out of a November tax battle with Brown.
Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt told reporters Monday that Burton's comment "doesn't have any place in the discourse here in Charlotte."
The Republican Jewish Coalition condemned Burton's remarks, the California Republican Party called them "desperate" and "deranged," and Mitt Romney's campaign issued a statement from former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota.
"President Obama promised to lift up American politics," Coleman said in the prepared statement. "Unfortunately, some of his supporters, by employing rhetoric that has no place in our political system, are bringing it down to the gutter. The comments by California Democratic Chair John Burton likening the Republican Party to Nazis and Joseph Goebbels are just such an instance. All people of good will should repudiate such disgraceful words."
Burton eventually apologized sort of.
"To correct press reports of my recent comments about Republican lies, I did not call Republicans Nazis nor would I ever. In fact, I didn't even use the word," he said in a prepared statement. "If Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan or the Republicans are insulted by my describing their campaign tactic as the big lie I most humbly apologize to them or anyone who might have been offended by that comment."