By John Friend
A group of renegade Republican politicians – two Congressional representatives and a state senator – are facing severe criticism from the establishment GOP and members of the liberal media for participating in an up-and-coming political action conference organized by Nick Fuentes, a leading figure in the America First movement and a popular political commentator.
The America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC), an annual conference now in its third year, drew an estimated 1200 attendees to its event last Friday, Feb. 25, and was held at a conference center in a hotel in Orlando, Florida. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green, Rep. Paul Gosar, and Arizona state Senator Wendy Rogers were featured speakers at the conference, which was organized and held in the same city and on the same weekend as the much more mainstream Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC.
The AFPAC event is billed as an alternative to CPAC, which America First supporters view as subversive and even hostile to the primary principals of the modern, populist conservative ideology: restrictionist immigration policies, ending foreign wars and foreign aid, rebuilding American industries, returning to strong Christian values, and rebuilding the American family.
In addition to the speeches (some of which were virtual) by the three aforementioned Republican politicians, other speakers included Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Gab founder Andrew Torba, conservative radio host and preacher Jesse Lee Peterson, and political analyst and commentator Vince James.
Following the event, Republican leaders were quick to denounce the conference and its main organizer, Nick Fuentes. Virtually in unison, Republican leaders attacked the conference and its message as “racist” and “White supremacist,” while implying the organization and Fuentes were “anti-Semitic” and “pro-Putin.”
“There’s no place in the Republican Party for white supremacists or anti-Semitism,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stated following the event, distancing himself and the GOP from the likes of Green, Gosar, and Rogers.
The Republican Jewish Coalition condemned “in the strongest possible terms” Rep. Green and Gosar’s participation in the event, saying the group will “oppose anyone who associates with Nick Fuentes, AFPAC, and their ilk.”
.@RJC condemns Reps. Greene and Gosar for participating in antisemitic white nationalist event.
Full release: pic.twitter.com/0GF7HoYnl0
— RJC (@RJC) February 26, 2022
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also denounced those who attended and the conference itself.
“Last week, I was just in Israel,” McCarthy told media outlets. “When I come back, I see two colleagues who went and participated with a group that has a leader that many times gives anti-Semitic views and led a chant for Putin. For me it was appalling and wrong. And there’s no place in our party for any of this.”
Following the controversy, Sen. Rogers was censured by the Arizona Senate for “unbecoming conduct” after being denounced and chastised by local and national leaders. The Arizona State College Republicans denounced the GOP and Rogers’ censure, stating the party is “not worthy of financial support.”
— 𝕮ollege 𝕽epublicans 𝖀nited (@ASU_CRU) March 1, 2022
Despite the denunciations and hysterical criticisms, AFPAC attendees, its speakers, and the Republican lawmakers caught up in the controversy do not appear to be backing down or cowering in the face of the outraged mob.
“When all the worst Republicans attack you, it shows you’re a threat to them,” Vince James, a leader in the America First movement who spoke at the event, recently stated. “It’s an honor to be disavowed by such feckless liberals posing as conservatives.”