The chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party is now tripling down after comparing private company vaccine mandates to Nazi Germany.
In a second prerecorded video released Wednesday, Oklahoma GOP Chairman John Bennett called on Republicans to “take the gloves off” adding, “we will take our cities, our counties, and this state back.”
In Oklahoma, all 77 counties twice voted for Donald Trump, Republicans have supermajorities in the House and Senate, all seven members of Congress are Republicans and both major cities are led by Republican mayors.
“If you’re in a position of leadership today and you don’t want to lead, then just get out of the way. We will find someone else that will lead,” Bennett said.
The defiant pushback comes after some Republicans including a former state chairman are calling on Bennett to be removed from his position.
In his first video Monday defending his Facebook post comparing private company vaccine mandates to the Holocaust, Bennett said, “they gave [Jews] a star to put on, and they couldn’t go to the grocery store, they couldn’t go out in public, they couldn’t do anything without having that star on their shirt. Take away the star and add a vaccine passport.”
The state's top Republicans issued a statement over the weekend saying, “It is irresponsible and wrong to compare an effective vaccine—developed by President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed—to the horrors of the Holocaust. People should have the liberty to choose if they take the vaccine, but we should never compare the unvaccinated to the victims of the Holocaust.”
Gov. Stitt, Lt. Gov. Pinnell, Sen. Inhofe, Sen. Lankford, Congressman Mullin, Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore Treat and Oklahoma Speaker of the House Charles McCall signed onto the statement.
“This is the Republican Party’s selected chairperson, this is someone who is picked by the folks who vote within the Republican Party,” House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, said. “So, to say that his voice is not representative of the Republican Party unfortunately just isn’t true.”
Controversy surrounding Bennett began before he ever became Chair of the Republican Party. In 2014, he came under fire for anti-Islamic statements cautioning Oklahomans to be weary of Muslims. In 2017, his office handed out questionnaires asking Muslim students if they beat their wives.
As chairman, Bennett took the unusual position of endorsing Republican Sen. James Lankford's far right primary challenger. That's before an unsuccessful state party vote to condemn and call for the removal of both Lankford and Senator Jim Inhofe.
“I’m challenging my fellow elected officials to stand with me and be who we say we are,” he said. “It’s no longer good enough to just have an ‘R’ behind your name. That ‘R’ has to mean something.”
News 9 has reached out to the Oklahoma State Republican Party offices several times since last Friday. Our calls have not been returned.