Matt Gaetz on Friday launched a fresh attack on Liz Cheney, saying she would have been booed off the stage if she attended the annual gathering of conservatives at the CPAC conference.
Gaetz, a top ally of former President Donald Trump, used his remarks at the gathering to take several swipes – both at members of his own party and at Democrats.
He opened with a dig at Cheney, whom Gaetz unsuccessfully tried to get removed from the House GOP leadership after she supported Trump’s second impeachment. Cheney was one of 10 House Republicans to support the impeachment article and survived at attempt by House conservatives to oust her from her number three leadership position.
‘I haven’t gotten that good a warm welcome since I was in Wyoming,’ Gaetz told the cheering crowd. Shortly after Cheney’s vote, Gaetz traveled to Wyoming to hold a rally against her.
‘If Liz Cheney were on this stage today she’d get booed off of it,’ he told the crowd. ‘What does that say? The leadership of our party is not found in Washington, DC. You are the energy. We are America,’ he noted.
Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida used his speech to take several swipes – both at members of his own party and at Democrats
Rep. Liz Cheney has been under fire from conservatives since she was one of 10 House Republicans to vote for Donald Trump’s second impeachment
Cheney has kept up her role as naysayer against Trump, beating the drum against his influence in the party. The former president has vowed vengeance on those who defied him, saying he would help their opponents in primaries.
Trump’s MAGA supporters, many of whom were at CPAC, are expected to play an outside role in the GOP primaries next year.
Trump will address CPAC on Sunday in his first post-White House appearance.
Gaetz, in his remarks, also attacked New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo over reports that Cuomo’s administration covered up the number of COVID deaths in nursing homes in the state.
‘They’re stripping granny out of the COVID ward at the hospital and tossing her into the nursing home – just enough time for her to infect everybody and go back to the hospital so that deaths can be recategorized for politics,’ he said.
He also brought up the Mr. Potatohead controversy. The doll has been labeled gender neutral by its manufacturer.
‘Look out Mr. Potatohead you are next. Now he’s going by Mr. Potatox. To me the whole the concept of the Mr. Potatohead was you could move the parts around. Mr. Potatohead was America’s first transgender doll and even he got cancelled,’ he said.
And, the Florida native praised his home state.
‘Florida is like an amazing woman. Adventurous, beautiful, mostly sunny, sometimes a little crazy, and always here to encourage and support success,’ he said. ‘By contrast, New York is like a bad ex-husband – mean, won’t let you go out to dinner; you’re less safe, financially spiraling downward, and they may kill your grandparents!’
CPAC, four-day conservative gathering, was moved from suburban Maryland to Florida in part because of the Sunshine State’s more relaxed rules on public gatherings during the COVID pandemic.
‘That state decided to cancel us because it wasn’t safe,’ CPAC host Matt Schlapp said in his opening remarks of the decision to move the conference from Maryland.
‘And I said I’ll be damned if I’m the first chairman in 20 years not to have CPAC,’ he added to thundering applause.
Many Trump supporters regularly refuse to don face masks. His campaign rallies were notable for the packed crowds and bare faces.
And when organizers of CPAC asked attendees to mask up on Friday, in compliance with the state rules, they were booed in return.
American Conservative Union executive director Dan Schneider and CPAC deputy director Carly Patrick took to the stage to make the request on Friday morning.
‘I know this might sound like a little bit of a downer, but we also believe in property rights, and this is a private hotel,’ Schneider said. ‘And we believe in the rule of law, so we need to comply with the laws of this county that we’re in. But a private hotel, just like your house, gets to set its own rules.’
Patrick added that ‘we are in a private facility, and we do want to be respectful of the ordinances that they have as their private property. So please, everyone: When you’re in the ballroom, when you’re seated, you should still be wearing a mask.’
‘No,’ the crowd yelled back. ‘Freedom.’
Most attendees didn’t wear the face coverings, arguing the government cannot make them. And several speakers at the event touted personal freedom.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who opened Friday’s session, didn’t mention the face mask issue in his brief remarks.
Conservatives are gathered in Orlando for annual CPAC conference
Many in the crowd did not wear face masks and several booed when organizers asked them to put them on in compliance with state rules
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis opened Friday’s session – most speakers are fervent Trump supporters
But he did tout his state’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. Florida has reported 1,892,301 cases since the pandemic began.
‘Florida’s leading on the issues that matter to conservatives,’ DeSantis said. ‘We don’t spout hollow rhetoric. We take decisive action.’
‘Florida got it right and the lockdown states got it wrong,’ he noted.