PAYSON, AZ - Republican Rep. Brenda Barton of Payson compared President Barack Obama to Adolph Hitler on her Facebook page Monday in a post urging county sheriffs to revoke authority from the National Parks Service "thugs" who are enforcing the federal shutdown on national parks lands.
"Someone is paying the National Park Service thugs overtime for their efforts to carry out the order of De Fuhrer… where are our Constitutional Sheriffs who can revoke the Park Service Rangers authority to arrest??? Do we have any Sheriffs with a pair?" she wrote.
Fuhrer is a German term for leader that is most often associated with Hitler.
Barton's comments drew strong criticism and condemnation from Democrats and others on social media.
But in a telephone interview with the Arizona Capitol Times, Barton stood by the comments, saying the comparison between Obama and Hitler was apt, at least in their style of leadership.
"He's dictating beyond his authority," she said.
Barton said Obama is leading America down a slippery slope away from a constitutional democracy toward an imperial dictatorship and the people of America should be aware. She said murdering millions of Jews, gypsies and gays wasn't the only thing that happened in Nazi Germany, and America under Obama is looking a lot like the early days of Germany under Hitler.
"It's not just the death camps. (Hitler) started in the communities, with national health care and gun control. You better read your history. Germany started with national health care and gun control before any of that other stuff happened. And Hitler was elected by a majority of people," she said.
Barton said she was prompted to write the post by stories she has heard about the Forest Service closing county roads, closing boat ramps in Mohave County and kicking one person out of their home, which was located on federally-leased land.
Barton said Obama is trying to make the federal government shutdown as painful as possible to Arizonans and Americans.
"This is an outrageous form of federal imperial government," she said.
Democrats and others were quick to attack Barton on social media, both for the comparison and the call to sheriffs to revoke the arresting authority from the National Forest Service rangers.
Rep. Ruben Gallego, a Democrat from Phoenix, tweeted at Barton: "what you are saying is completely incorrect and illegal." In another tweet, Gallego said Barton owes "an apology to the President, and Arizona for embarrassing us."
Barton said she didn't believe she owed Obama an apology. She said her comment was designed to attract attention and start a conversation, but she still doesn't think it is insensitive or controversial and didn't regret the post.
"It got your attention," she said. "He's doing something controversial. It's not controversial that I'm criticizing him… I don't think that's controversial at all."