California Dem offers qualified apology for comparing GOP claims to Nazi tactics

The chairman of the California Democratic Party offered a qualified apology after comparing Republican tactics -- and specifically Paul Ryan's convention remarks -- to the "big lie" strategy employed by Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

California Democratic chief John Burton made the remarks Monday in an interview with San Francisco station KCBS while in Charlotte, N.C., for the Democratic National Convention.

"They lie and they don't care if people think they lie ... Joseph Goebbels -- the big lie, you keep repeating it," Burton said. "That was Goebbels, the big lie."

Republicans quickly condemned the language. The California GOP called it "desperate, deranged rhetoric" that Democrats were using to "distract" voters from their "failed record."

Burton later issued a statement claiming he didn't actually call Republicans Nazis and noting he didn't actually use the word "Nazi" -- though he made repeated references to Goebbels.

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"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," he said.

Burton, in the original interview, was complaining about comments Ryan made in his GOP convention speech last week citing the closure of a GM plant, though it closed before President Obama took office. Burton suggested Republicans couldn't be trusted to tell the truth, including when it comes to their Medicare plans.

Burton said the Republicans lie and don't care whether people know they lie. Goebbels was the chief of Nazi propaganda. Nazi leader Adolf Hitler believed the "big lie" had a greater chance of being believed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.