GOP leaders reverse course, embrace radical candidate in Georgia

As the Republican Party formally supports Marjorie Taylor Greene, one GOP lawmaker said, "We've lost our way."
Image: Marjorie Taylor Greene
Republican congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene speaks to a GOP women's group in Rome, Ga., on March 3, 2020.John Bailey / Rome News-Tribune via AP file

In June, congressional Republican leaders confronted an awkward realization: if Marjorie Taylor Greene prevailed in her GOP primary runoff, Congress would soon have a fringe proponent of the crackpot QAnon conspiracy theory as an elected federal lawmaker.

Given Greene's record of radicalism, Politico reported at the time that the House's highest-ranking Republicans were "racing to distance themselves" from the right-wing candidate. The Washington Post quoted one GOP source soon after saying, "There are a lot of members livid at [House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy] for sitting back and doing nothing to stop this woman from being elected."

But as the summer progressed, the party's posture slowly evolved. Donald Trump, for example, not only endorsed Greene's candidacy, the president also called her a "future Republican Star" and invited her to attend his convention speech at the White House. When Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) condemned QAnon and the Republican candidates who espouse such madness, the Trump campaign quickly went on the attack -- against Kinzinger.

As Election Day nears, the party has apparently abandoned its concerns altogether. The Daily Beast reported yesterday:

After weeks of wavering, the national Republican party has formally thrown its support behind Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgia Republican House candidate who is openly supportive of QAnon. The National Republican Congressional Committee donated $5,000 to Greene's congressional campaign on September 25, according to campaign finance records -- the maximum amount the committee can donate. The donation formalizes the GOP's acceptance of Greene's candidacy after top officials in the party had signaled hesitancy in backing her.

In case this isn't obvious, it's worth emphasizing how wholly unnecessary this is. Greene is the Republican nominee in one of the nation's reddest districts. She didn't need the boost and the NRCC's backing won't affect the outcome of her race at all: Greene's victory is inevitable. (Her Democratic rival quit the race weeks ago.)

But the National Republican Congressional Committee apparently wanted to give the fringe candidate its official backing anyway, drawing a formal connection between the party and QAnon adherent.

On "Meet the Press" yesterday, NBC News' Chuck Todd asked outgoing Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) about the message the Republican Party is sending by supporting a congressional candidate accused of using racist and other offensive rhetoric.

The Virginia Republican lamented, in reference to his party, "We've lost our way." Riggleman added, "[W]hen we start to actually represent as a party that's part of this anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that believes there's some kind of pedophilic cabal on the Democratic side of the House, I think we're in for a rough ride."