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GOP largely silent after member speaks at white nationalist's event

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) delivered the keynote address at a white nationalist's event. Why are most Republican leaders saying nothing about it?
Representative Paul Gosar, a Republican from Arizona, speaks during a 'Road To Victory' bus tour stop with Kelli Ward,
Representative Paul Gosar, a Republican from Arizona, speaks during a 'Road To Victory' bus tour stop with Kelli Ward, Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Arizona at the Gunsite Academy in Paulden, Arizona on Aug. 24, 2018.Caitlin O'Hara / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Nick Fuentes is far from a household name in the United States, and all things considered, that's a good thing. He is, after all, a radical who's called for "a homeland" for white people, who's engaged in Holocaust denialism, who rallied rioters outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and whose YouTube page was permanently suspended for promoting hate speech.

Fuentes is also a white nationalist who hosted a political gathering this past weekend called the America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC). Ordinarily, that wouldn't be especially noteworthy, since fringe extremists hold random events all the time.

But as we discussed earlier this week, Fuentes' conference featured a sitting Republican congressman: Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), one of Congress' most far-right members, delivered the keynote address at the gathering. After the congressman spoke, Fuentes delivered some additional remarks of his own, spending 67 minutes "mocking a disabled member of Congress, calling the Jan. 6 riots 'awesome' and demanding protection for the country's 'White demographic core.'"

Gosar and Fuentes also apparently met for coffee the day after the event.

Soon after, the Arizona Republic's Laurie Roberts posed an excellent question: "Why are no Republicans condemning Rep. Paul Gosar for cozying up to white nationalists?" She added that Gosar is "paling around with white nationalists and the response of his fellow Republicans is … silence?"

To that end, the HuffPost tried to get an answer to those questions.

In the week since AFPAC, the Republican Party has yet to rebuke Gosar. HuffPost this week reached out to the offices of seven prominent Republican politicians — including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) — to see whether they would condemn Gosar for attending an explicitly white nationalist conference. None responded.

In fairness, it's worth emphasizing that one member of the GOP leadership -- House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) -- went where most of her colleagues would not. The Wyoming congresswoman, who recently argued that the Republican Party must "make clear that we aren't the party of white supremacy," was willing to call out the Arizonan's association with AFPAC.

"I think the organization that [Gosar] spoke to is one that has expressed views that are clearly racist," Cheney told Politico. She added, "This is not the kind of an organization or an event that other members of Congress should be participating in."

Her colleagues in the House Republican leadership, however, have remained silent about Gosar's appearance, at least so far.

Politico's report added that some GOP lawmakers have said "privately" that they were disturbed by Gosar's willingness to appear at a white nationalist event.

"It is completely nuts," one Republican lawmaker said. "It's really disgusting, nefarious stuff."

The fact that he or she wasn't willing to make such a comment on the record is itself a bad sign about the state of GOP politics in 2021.

Remember, there is an existing blueprint for situations like these. In 2018, the Trump White House fired a speechwriter after officials learned he spoke at a conference attended by well-known white nationalists. Soon after, a Department of Homeland Security policy analyst resigned after his connections to white-nationalist activists was exposed.

What's more, two years ago, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) expressed disgust with then-Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), stripped him of his committee assignments, rendered him irrelevant, and watched the Iowan's career evaporate soon after. (King, incidentally, also spoke at Fuentes' gathering.)

GOP officials could treat Gosar the exact same way now. At least for now, they don't want to.