Four elected Republican politicians — including two U.S. representatives, a state senator, and the lieutenant governor of Idaho — spoke at a white nationalist conference Friday night, further strengthening the party’s ties to the racist right.
And, so far, they’re getting nothing but green lights from party leadership to continue engaging with the racist celebrities — including those praising Jim Crow laws and posing with Nazi salues — who spoke at and organized the “America First Political Action Conference.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), for example, said in a one-sentence statement Monday that “There’s no place in the Republican Party for white supremacists or anti-Semitism.” The statement did not name the elected Republicans or the event, nor did it give any indication that McConnell supports actions that would marginalize the conference-goers from GOP politics.
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the House minority leader, also didn’t refer by name to the two members of his caucus who attended the racist conference — Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-GA), the latter of whom also headlined the event last year — when he made a perfunctory comment on the matter Monday.
“I see two colleagues, who went and participated with a group that has a leader that many times gives you anti-Semitic views, led a chant for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin. To me, it was appalling and wrong,” he told reporters. “There’s no place in our party for any of this.”
On Tuesday, he refused to talk about it at all.
As things are, Gosar and Greene could still sit on powerful committees if Republicans regain the House in next year’s elections.
‘White Culture Is The Majority Culture’
The relative silence from GOP leadership stands in stark contrast to the giddy white nationalists who spoke at the America First Political Action Conference, hosted by far-right leader Nick Fuentes, an open bigot who’s successfully sought to ingratiate himself and his “America First” movement, also known as “groypers,” with Republican Party politicians.
Fuentes has said of segregation, “It was better for them, it’s better for us, it’s better in general.” After attending the deadly white nationalist “Unite The Right” event in Charlottesville in 2017, he wrote on Facebook, “The rootless transnational elite knows that a tidal wave of white identity is coming.”
Just ahead of Greene’s remarks, Fuentes told the crowd assembled at the Orlando World Center Marriott, “our secret sauce here is these young white men.” As he introduced the representative, Fuentes noted the Russian invasion of Ukraine: “Now they’re going on about Russia and ‘Vladimir Putin is Hitler’ — they say that’s not a good thing.” He led the crowd in cheers for Russia and Putin.
Greene told the crowd: “You’ve been handed the responsibility to fight for our Constitution and stand for our freedoms, and stop the Democrats who are the communist party of the United States of America.” She later defended speaking to the gathering, which she characterized as “1,200 young conservatives who feel cast aside and marginalized by society” and “1,200 people gathered to declare that Christ is King.”
Immediately after Greene spoke Friday night, the white nationalist Vincent James Foxx took the stage.
“Western, white culture is the majority culture into which non-white assimilate into today,” Foxx said. “And they’re better off for it. To dismantle this is to dismantle those people. If you replace a people and their culture, you no longer have this nation.”
Arizona State Sen. Wendy Rogers’ (R), who also appeared at AFPAC in a pre-recorded video Friday night, told the attendees, “We need to build more gallows” for unspecified traitors against the nation. On her Telegram channel Friday night, she wrote: “Vincent James run for office.”
Another post on her channel featured Rogers posing behind a dead rhino labeled “CPAC,” or Conservative Political Action Conference, the more mainstream of the two events. The “A” in the label appeared to show a Star of David.
Rogers has a history of supporting Fuentes, repeatedly boasting that he refers to her as “BASED,” and writing to Fuentes at one point, “We love you.”
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R), asked a few days ago about Rogers’ associations with white nationalists, said “she’s still better than her opponent.”
And on Tuesday, as she came under fire for her appearance, Rogers wrote on her Telegram channel, “So today is the day where we find out if the Communists in the GOP throw the sweet grandma under the bus for being white.” (Rogers separately self-described as a “sweet grandma.”)
Rogers ultimately did face some consequences for her comments — but not for her affiliations with white nationalists.
“What we do not condone is members threatening each other, to ruin each other, to incite violence, to call us Communist — we don’t do that to each other,” Fann said.
“I do not apologize,” Rogers said as she voted against the censure. “I will not back down.”
‘I Need Freedom Fighters’
Janice McGeachin (R), the Idaho lieutenant governor who’s currently in the running for the governorship, appeared similarly insulated from any significant consequences.
“I need freedom fighters… even when that means fighting amongst our own ranks because too many Republicans don’t exhibit the courage today,” she told AFPAC attendees in a pre-recorded video.
“Don’t tell me what I believe,” McGeachin said in a statement after the conference, accusing the media of playing “guilt by association.” McGeachin said that while she supports “America First policies,” she does not support “identity politics or other discriminatory views.”
So why did she go to a conference organized by white nationalists? McGeachin didn’t say, other than that she was invited, and “I took the opportunity to share my views” about “America First” policies.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) said in a statement Tuesday that “there is no place for racism and hate in the great State of Idaho.” He, too, did not refer by name to the politician he was apparently talking about.