Actor and GOP congressional candidate Antonio Sabato Jr. discussed his immigration views during an interview on the daytime talk show “The View.” Sabato said that he had lost opportunities in Hollywood because of his support of U.S. President Donald Trump and reaffirmed his belief in the unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama is a Muslim (video below).
On Feb. 8, Sabato sat down to discuss his run for Congress during a segment on ABC’s “The View.” The candidate, best known as a model and soap opera actor, said that he had been “blacklisted” by Hollywood after endorsing Trump at the Republican National Convention in 2016.
“My agents and my managers all left me,” Sabato said. “I had some jobs lined up that all went away.”
The actor asserted that the cold shoulder he had received from the entertainment industry was similar to the persecution that his relatives faced during the Holocaust.
“My mother escaped the Russians and, yeah, my grandmother escaped the Holocaust and Auschwitz … and I was like: ‘It’s happening to me,'” Sabato continued.
Co-host Sunny Hostin queried Sabato on his support for Trump’s immigration policies, noting that the actor had immigrated to the U.S. from Italy when he was a child.
“You call yourself an immigrant, but you’re in favor of the wall being built, being paid for by the American people and keeping other immigrants out of the country much like yourself?” Hostin asked.
“The way I see it, I want the American people to be taken care of first,” Sabato responded. “I don’t want the American people to take care of everybody else’s problems … I came here legally. We had to wait in line and struggle and save a lot of money.”
The actor said he supported immigration reform “but at the same time we need to protect our borders and build.”
Sabato added that he supported Trump’s proposal to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The hosts asked Sabato about his previous statements regarding Obama. During the RNC convention, the actor told ABC News: “We had a Muslim for seven and a half years.”
“Do you think that has anything to do with the blacklisting?” Hostin asked.
Sabato replied: “Maybe it was my mistake then or whatever, but I never meant — I liked the president, I liked him as a person, his family, they’re good people, so for me it was never an insult.”
Sabato added that he believed Obama was raised as a Muslim.
“It’s important not to propagate fake news,” host Joy Behar told the actor.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact has found no evidence that Obama ever followed Islamic teachings. He has Muslim ancestors on his father’s side of the family but identifies as a Christian. Blain Auer, a professor of Islamic studies at Western Michigan University, noted that Obama’s family tree had no bearing on his personal faith because religious affiliation is “not a genetic disposition.”
Sabato is running to challenge incumbent Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley of California in the 2018 midterm elections. Several conservatives from Brownley’s district have called on Sabato to drop out of the GOP primary because he had performed in gay sex scenes in several films, according to the Los Angeles Times.