CPAC news – live: Marjorie Taylor Greene defends speech to white nationalist conference amid backlash

Trump claims 10 million illegal immigrants are ‘bum-rushing’ the US

High-profile Republicans are converging in Orlando, Florida for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference this week, with former President Donald Trump headlining the event.

The conservative confab attracts a who’s who of GOP luminaries. Typically held just outside of Washington DC, this year’s conference is being held in Orlando, Florida, likely due to its proximity to the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach in the “free state”.

High-profile speakers this year include Donald Trump Jr, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Sen Ted Cruz, Florida Gov Ron DeSantis, Nigel Farage, and Rep Jim Jordan.

During his remarks on Thursday evening, Mr Cruz railed against Big Tech and praised crypto.

“Big is bad,” the Texas senator told the crowd. “Across the board. Big government sucks. Big business sucks. Big tech, big Hollywood, big university. Any accumulation of power that is centralised is fundamentally dangerous for individual liberty.”

Ron DeSantis, meanwhile, gave a barnstorming speech to a standing ovation in a clear pitch to be the GOP candidate in 2024 to take on the “Brandon administration”, citing his record with Covid-19 preventing his state becoming a “Faucian dystopia”.

Missouri’s GOP Senator Josh Hawley also slammed the Biden administration, claiming it “emboldened” Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine by holding off on sanctioning the Nord Stream 2 pipeline until this week.

Mike Pompeo spoke in the style of a stump speech giving a preview of his own likely 2024 campaign, warning of the enemy within as well as China.


Greene tries to explain white nationalist conference attendance

Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene spoke to a crowd of journalists Saturday afternoon after initially refusing to answer questions about her attendance at a white nationalist conference the night prior.

Surrounded by reporters demanding explanations regarding why Ms Greene had appeared onstage with Nick Fuentes, a white nationalist who has alleged that Democrats are trying to exterminate white people, the Georgia congresswoman claimed she did not know anything about the event she had been booked to speak at.

“I do not know Nick Fuentes; I’ve never heard him speak, I’ve never seen a video, I don’t know what his views are, so I’m not aligned with anything that may be controversial,” Ms Greene claimed.

Her remarks Friday night at the Orlando-area CPAC alternative meeting occurred on the same stage where Mr Fuentest would later quip that comparisons of Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler were not an insult.

John Bowden26 February 2022 18:22


Marjorie Taylor Greene runs from reporters after attending white nationalist event

Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene was confronted at CPAC on Saturday after attending a white nationalist event a day earlier in the same city.

The congresswoman and her staff cleared a path through the crowd and hurried away while a dozen or so reporters shouted questions about her apparent endorsement of the right-wing extremists she had joined for a conference a day earlier.

John Bowden26 February 2022 17:35


Republican congresswoman appears at white nationalist event

A far-right conference hosted by white nationalist Nick Fuentes was attended by a Republican member of Congress, Marjorie Taylor Greene, as CPAC continued in Orlando.

Far-right extremists gathered at an Orlando-area Marriott hotel for the America First Political Action Conference this weekend which on Friday included a special surprise appearance from Ms Greene, one of the furthest-right members of the House.

Later that evening the conference’s host, Nick Fuentes, would go on to openly quip that liberals were comparing Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and inferred that the comparison was actually a compliment to Mr Putin.

“Now they’re going on about Russia and ‘Vladimir Putin is Hitler’. They say that’s not a good thing,” said Mr Fuentes in his remarks.

“I shouldn’t have said that. I shouldn’t have said that,” he said, while some audience members cheered him on.

John Bowden26 February 2022 17:08


Papa John’s founder makes CPAC appearance

John Schnatter, founder of pizza chain Papa Johns, appeared at CPAC in Orlando on Saturday where the former CEO blamed President Joe Biden for the Russian invasion of Ukraine and claimed that he was using it to shield himself from criticism.

Mr Schnatter resigned from his company in 2018 after a controversy erupted when he was heard saying a racial slur on an internal company phone call. He did not appear to have brought any pizza to the convention center on Saturday.

In an interview with Real America’s Voice, Mr Schnatter questioned whether the White House “did this intentionally” to “create a great smokescreen, to create a distraction from all the real issues here affecting Americans”.

John Bowden26 February 2022 16:56


Banner airplane trolls Republicans at CPAC

A cheeky message from left-leaning activists was waiting to meet Republicans outside of CPAC on Saturday.

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues and former President Donald Trump continues to express his admiration for Vladimir Putin, a small aircraft circled the CPAC grounds in Orlando, Florida, welcoming the GOP to the city with a Moscow twist.

John Bowden26 February 2022 15:47


Biden responds to erratic Trump statements praising Putin

Joe Biden finally responded in an interview on Saturday after his predecessor made a handful of remarks praising Russia’s Vladimir Putin for his strategy regarding the invasion of Ukraine.

In the interview, which looked to have been recorded some time during the week following Russia’s invasion late Wednesday night, the US president was asked to respond to Donald Trump’s statement referring to Mr Putin’s plan to send so-called “peacekeeping” forces into the Donbas a “genius” move. The troop deployment immediately preceded the full-scale invasion of the rest of Ukraine’s territory.

John Bowden26 February 2022 14:56


What time is Donald Trump’s CPAC speech today?

The former president is seeking to re-establish his grasp over the Republican Party ahead of a long-rumoured presidential run in 2024.

His audience can expect plenty of plugs for the former president’s new Truth Social app, gripes about his ongoing legal troubles and more conspiracy theorising about his defeat at the ballot box in 2020 – and he may even hug the flag again.

The Independent’s Joe Sommerlad has more details.

Bevan Hurley26 February 2022 14:36


Why Republicans and Trump suddenly have an unexpected Putin problem

In the five years since Vladimir Putin ordered Russian hackers to break into Democratic National Committee email systems and conduct a widespread social media campaign to boost Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, the idea that the Russian dictator was an ally of the Republican Party gained widespread traction among Democrats.

It was that partisan sentiment – and Mr Trump’s recent decision to call Vladimir Putin a “genius” recognising two break-away regions of eastern Ukraine ahead of his all-out assault – that led a Democratic political action committee to hire an airplane to tow a banner reading “Putin Welcomes CPAC to Orlando” above the Florida site of this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, where Mr Trump is set to speak on Saturday.

But Mr Putin’s order to invade Ukraine and shatter the peace Europe has enjoyed since 1945 may have cost him what little support he has had among the Republican grassroots.

The Independent’s Richard Hall and Andrew Feinberg report.

Bevan Hurley26 February 2022 13:41


Voices: Nigel Farage made the most awkward speech of his career

As Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine, Nigel Farage made the most awkward speech of his career, writes Holly Baxter.

Oliver O’Connell26 February 2022 07:01


Why wait until Saturday to talk election fraud when Josh Mandell is on hand

Ohio Senate candidate Josh Mandel was on the case with election fraud, so we don’t have to wait for Donald Trump’s speech on Saturday. He is big on the Big Lie.

“One of the problems we have in America is that we have democrats and leftists who think it’s ok to cheat in elections.”

The loudest applause of the day came when he said: “I believe this election was stolen from Donald J Trump!”

“We should abolish the January 6 commission, and replace it with the November 3 commission.”

Mr Mandel also calls Reps Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger “traitors”.

He wants photo ID for voting, the elimination of all electronic voting machines and of mail-in voting, and for voting to be restricted to just one day.

Mr Mandel declares he is “Pro-God, Pro-Gun, Pro-Trump”, and will “make decisions with the Bible in one hand and the Constitution in the other”.

Presumably with either Siri or a stenographer nearby to take notes or write legislation.

Oliver O’Connell26 February 2022 06:01


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