Hours after speaking at an event on Friday whose organizer appeared to glorify both the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and white supremacy, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) said on Saturday that he doesn’t support “white racism.”
“I want to tell you, I denounce when we talk about white racism,” Gosar said during a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday. “That’s not appropriate. I believe in a strong immigration system.”
Gosar later clarified in an interview with the Washington Post that he was referring to a speech made by far-right political commentator Nick Fuentes during the America First Political Action Conference on Friday night.
“There’s no room for violence,” Gosar further clarified, when asked about the Capitol attack which Fuentes had also described in admiring terms on Friday.
Gosar, who had led a challenge from Arizona Republicans to the electoral vote on Jan. 6, was the only current elected official to attend the Friday event organized by Fuentes.
The far-right commentator had been an influential promoter of former President Donald Trump’s false conspiracies of a stolen election and had helped to rally rioters outside the U.S. Capitol before the building was stormed on Jan. 6.
Fuentes on Friday had mocked Gosar’s colleagues in Congress, claiming that they had abandoned Trump’s agenda declaring that America needed to protect its “White demographic core.” Fuentes also made fun of the partial paralysis of Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC).
The white supremacist-sympathizing commentator further accused racial justice activists of seeking “a new racial caste system in this country, with Whites at the bottom.”
“If America ceases to retain that English cultural framework and the influence of European civilization, if it loses its White demographic core and if it loses its faith in Jesus Christ, then this is not America anymore,” he said.
Fuentes’ long history of racist and antisemitic comments got him booted from social media, and a preceding speech by Gosar on Friday had focused on social media censorship and immigration lawmakers who “fail to put America first should be held accountable at the ballot box.”
Appearing after a video depicting the Capitol insurrection, Fuentes also described as “awesome,” a scene of the pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6 surrounding the Capitol while law enforcement retreated and lawmakers “scurried to their underground tunnels away from the Capitol.”
“We need a little bit more of that energy in the future,” he said, appearing to glorify the violent scene as members of Congress cowered in fear, before claiming to disavow “violence” and “vandalism.”
Asked whether he regretted attending the event, Gosar told the Post “you don’t accomplish anything by isolating” and refusing to address certain audiences.
“It’s always about the debate,” he said. “That’s how you grow.”