Comedian Jackie Mason calls Congressman Jerry Nadler “a little overweight” in a new robocall paid for by the congressional campaign of Oliver Rosenberg, Nadler’s challenger in the June 28 Democratic primary.
“You know what Jerry Nadler has done in Congress so far? He voted for the Iran deal,” Mason says of Nadler, who has represented parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn since 1992. “You would never know he was a Jew all his life. By looking at him you could tell he’s a little overweight, and he’s a little short.”
Nadler, whose vote last summer in favor of a nuclear deal with Iran angered some constituents, is facing his first primary challenger since 1996.
Rosenberg, a 30-year-old openly gay graduate of Yeshiva University, played down his campaign’s emphasis on Nadler’s Iran vote in an interview with the Forward, highlighting instead his positions on student debt and housing. But in two robocalls recorded on Rosenberg’s behalf, Mason hammers on the Iran issue. “You know what happens to the Jews? The Jews are facing a hydrogen bomb,” Mason says in one of the calls. “No decent person would vote for Jerry Nadler.”
The robocalls end with a statement that they were paid for by Rosenberg’s campaign, followed by a plug for Rosenberg’s campaign website.
In a statement to the New York Post, Nadler campaign manager Daniel Schwarz called the robocalls “a new low.”
Famous for his Borscht Belt stand-up, Mason, 85, is an outspoken political conservative and a harsh critic of President Barack Obama.
Nadler has been attacked for his weight before. In the fall of 2015, after his vote in favor of the Iran deal, The Flatbush Jewish Journal ran an anonymous advertisement against Nadler illustrated with decades-old photo clearly meant to embarrass him over his struggles with obesity.
“You try to ignore it,” Nadler, who underwent stomach-reduction surgeries in 2002 and 2003, told The New York Times in 2002. “But, of course, it’s hurtful. I’ve learned to laugh it off. But it’s hurtful.”
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Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.