Republican congressman appears at white nationalist conference whose founder called Capitol riot ‘awesome’

Only elected GOP official to attend alternative far-right conference said afterwards: ‘I denounce when we talk about white racism’

Gino Spocchia
Sunday 28 February 2021 13:53 GMT
CPAC organisers beg crowd to wear masks

Republican congressman Paul Gosar appeared at a white nationalist political conference before attending the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), according to reports.

The Arizona Republican appeared on-stage at the "America First Political Action Conference" (AFPAC) on Friday, following the far-right conference’s founder, Nicholas Fuentes.

Mr Fuentes, an alleged white nationalist, said on Friday that the Capitol riot – in which five people died – was “awesome”, and that "white people are done being bullied".

The AFPAC founder went on to add that if the country "loses its white demographic core, then this is not America anymore”.

Mr Fuentes also mocked Republican congressman Madison Cawthorn, who uses a wheelchair, for not “standing up”, after he spoke at the mainstream conservative conference, CPAC, also taking place in Florida. The speeches were shared in videos to Twitter.

Read more: CPAC interrupted as organisers forced to tell attendees to wear masks to furious jeers

Facing criticism for appearing alongside Mr Fuentes at AFPAC, Mr Gosar told a panel at CPAC on Saturday that racism was “not appropriate”, as he appeared to distance himself from the Friday night event.

"I denounce when we talk about white racism,” Mr Gosar argued, after appearing alongside an alleged white nationalist. “That's not appropriate."

As reported by The Washington Post, the Arizona Republican told Congress on Friday that he was unable to vote on critical Covid relief bills because of “the ongoing public health emergency".

The decision by Mr Gosar to vote by proxy came despite Republicans previously denouncing the process used by lawmakers to vote while absent, amid the pandemic.

The congressman was among several Republican lawmakers who appeared and spoke at CPAC across the weekend, after citing the Covid-19 pandemic as a reason not to vote on the relief bill passed by the House on Friday.

Mr Fuentes, the founder of AFPAC, previously appeared at the far-right rally in Charlottesville in 2017, after which he was forced to leave university. The protests, which were attended by neo-Nazis, was criticised for chants of “Jews will not replace us”, among other slurs.

The AFPAC founder shared a picture of a meeting with Mr Gosar earlier on Saturday on Twitter, which read: “Great meeting today with Congressman Gosar! America is truly uncancelled.”

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