The two most combustable GOP lightning rods are joining forces and hitting the road together.
Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene have decided to take their cases on the road, working to bolster their support by calling out all the Republicans in name only (aka RINOS) and confronting the liberal left.
They want to target Democrats and single out Republicans who they believe are not sufficiently committed to former President Donald Trump, such as the ten GOP House representatives who voted for his second impeachment following the Capitol protests on Jan. 6.
The mega-conservative Florida retirement community known as The Villages, a must-stop for any Republican hopeful aiming to win the state or fuel grassroots enthusiasm, will host Gaetz and Greene’s “America First Tour” on May 7.
The goal is to convey a message from the two divisive Republicans that they’re not cancelled, that they’re not going to vanish, and that the infamy they’ve earned from their detractors can be translated into fame and influence throughout the conservative community.
“The radical left is coming for you. And they know I’m in the way. Come stand with me as we fight back together against this radical president and his far left agenda,” Gaetz spouted in a radio ad rallying conservatives to his event.
Gaetz’s decision to come forward follows weeks of national headlines and top-of-the-news-hour television reports about the announcement that he is the target of a federal sex-crimes probe.
Gaetz, who has not been charged, has consistently denied the two anonymous claims against him: that he had sex with a 17-year-old girl and paid for prostitutes. The accusations are linked to former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg, a former friend who is thought to be trying to cut a deal with federal prosecutors on a 33-count indictment.
A letter written by Greenberg to Roger Stone, his connection to Trump, with multiple texts Greenberg asserts are snapshots of what transpired between the two, have surfaced, confirming the story that Gaetz and Greenberg were involved with human trafficking, and in at least one instance, paid for sex with a child under the age of 18.
Greene, a first-term Republican from Georgia, was relieved of her House committee assignments in February after promoting conspiracy theories and incendiary language in the days leading up to the Capitol riot on Jan. 6.
Gaetz, who is known for being outspoken and ever-present on cable news as a Trump supporter, was recently off the air for weeks as the news cycle took its toll on him.
Now, one of Gaetz’s most ardent supporters in the conservative press, Fox’s Tucker Carlson, is openly asking whether he is the victim of overly aggressive lawyers working under a Democratic government that seeks to discredit conservative voices by smearing Republicans like Gaetz with sexual impropriety charges.
“That story essentially destroyed Gaetz, took him off the map completely as a rhetorical force,” Tucker Carlson stated on his show. “Whatever his flaws, Gaetz is smart, articulate and brave. Matt Gaetz was one of the very few members of Congress who bothered to stand up against permanent Washington on behalf of his constituents. Now he’s a sex trafficker. So the question is, who exactly did Matt Gaetz sex traffic? We can’t answer that question because no charges have been filed. All that remains is the stigma.”
According to an advisor, Gaetz plans to reemerge publicly on television soon and is expected to be on Carlson’s show. He couldn’t say what other cities Gaetz and Greene expect to visit as part of their trip.
Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a fellow Republican, is likely to receive a call from Gaetz.
Cheney was a leading figure who admonished Trump for his part in the Capitol protests on Jan. 6 and voted to impeach him. Gaetz retaliated by traveling from Florida to Wyoming to speak out against Cheney.
“Defeat Liz Cheney in this upcoming election, and Wyoming will bring Washington to its knees,” Gaetz said on Jan. 28. The Wyoming GOP later censured Cheney.
Two months later, the news of Gaetz’s investigation hit the news cycle like a ton of bricks. Cheney got revenge by calling the charges against him “sickening,” but stopped short to press for his resignation.
Gaetz defended himself against the charges, saying he was singled out because he decided “to take on the most powerful institutions in the Beltway: the establishment; the FBI; the Biden Justice Department; the Cheney political dynasty; even the Justice Department under Trump.”
In his original announcement for “The America First Tour,” Gaetz avoided naming any Republicans.
“There are millions of Americans who need to know they still have advocates in Washington D.C., and the America First movement is consistently growing and fighting,” Gaetz said in a written statement provided to POLITICO. “The issues that motivate us include ending America’s forever-wars, fixing the border Joe Biden broke on day one, prioritizing Americans, not illegal migrants, reshoring industries sold to foreign adversaries, ensuring real election integrity, and taking on the threat of the Chinese Communist Party. These issues are bigger than any one election and we remain ready to take our party and our country back.”
Gaetz’s reemergence does not surprise Alex Andrade, a Republican state representative who occupies Gaetz’s old seat in the Florida House.
“Of course Congressman Gaetz is going about business as usual,” Andrade said.
“He committed to fighting entrenched corruption when he first ran for Congress, and he’s not going to be deterred by anything we’ve seen to date. I know I wouldn’t have expected anything else from him.”