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Supporters of Mitt Romney, President Obama use extreme rhetoric to criticize opponents

Supporters of both presidential candidates used extreme language to criticize the other side over Labor Day weekend, with California’s Democratic Party chairman likening GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s speech at last week’s Republican convention to Nazi propaganda and actor Chuck Norris comparing President Obama’s re-election to “the triumph of evil.”

At a Monday-morning breakfast for the California delegation in Charlotte, where the Democratic convention begins on Tuesday, California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton compared Ryan and fellow Republicans to Joseph Goebbels, a Nazi propagandist.

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“They lie, and they don’t care if people think they lie,” Burton said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “Joseph Goebbels -- it’s the big lie; you keep repeating it.”

Burton added that Ryan told “a bold-faced lie, and he doesn’t care that it was a lie. That was Goebbels, the big lie.”

The Republican National Committee quickly denounced Burton’s remarks as “outrageous and insulting to all Americans.”

“It’s become clear that with no record to run on and no plan for the future, President Obama and his allies will resort to the lowest attacks possible to divert attention away from the fact that Americans are worse off today than they were four years ago,” RNC spokesman Matt Connelly said in a statement.

Asked about Burton’s comments on Monday, Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt told reporters “that doesn’t have any place in the political discourse here in Charlotte” but did not answer a question about whether the president would ask Burton to step down from his position.

Speaking for Mitt Romney’s campaign, Norm Coleman, a former senator from Minnesota and a co-chair of the Romney Jewish Coalition, said Burton’s remarks illustrate Obama’s unfulfilled promise to “lift up American politics.”

“Unfortunately, some of his supporters, by employing rhetoric that has no place in our political system, are bringing it down to the gutter,” Coleman said. “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.”

Norris made his comments in a Web video posted on Saturday that began to circulate more rapidly on Monday. In the video, Norris and his wife, Gena, urged evangelical Christians to vote in greater numbers than they did in 2008.

Norris said that “our great country and freedom are under attack” and that “we can no longer sit quietly or stand on the sidelines and watch our country go the way of socialism or something much worse.”

“As Edmund Burke said, ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men and women do nothing,’ ” Norris added.

Callum Borchers can be reached at callum.borchers@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.
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