(HuffPost) – Rep. Paul Gosar, a Republican from Arizona, spoke Friday night at a far-right extremist rally organized by white nationalist figurehead Nick Fuentes while his colleagues in the House passed a massive coronavirus relief package.
Gosar, who has served in Congress for more than a decade, submitted a request to vote by proxy due to the threat of the pandemic.
Yet instead of staying home, he traveled to Orlando, Florida, where he served as a surprise headliner at the America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC) alongside Steve King, the white nationalist former congressman from Iowa.
The coronavirus aid passed the House with no Republican support and is now under consideration in the Senate.
Fuentes, the main AFPAC organizer, attended both the deadly 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the U.S. Capitol riot of this year, although he claims he did not storm the building.
His extremist event was held not far from the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), where the Republican party is shaping its future in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency. Gosar, a staunch Trump supporter who has pushed conspiracy theories about the 2020 election results, also appeared at CPAC for a panel discussion on Saturday.
Key themes overlapped at both events, including support for Trump’s Make America Great Again agenda and gripes about immigration, Big Tech and so-called “cancel culture.”
Officially, the theme of the 2021 CPAC is “America Uncanceled.” The event organizers were moved to cancel one of their speakers, however, after he voiced “reprehensible views” in the days leading up to his scheduled appearance.
Gosar addressed the supposedly existential threat of censorship at AFPAC.
“We have a climate crisis, but it’s not about the moon and the oceans. We have a climate crisis of intolerance,” he told the crowd gathered in a dark room.
“A climate of angry, violent communism. Who will be censored next?”
The sitting congressman took the stage just after King, who was stripped of all his committee assignments in early 2019 after he defended the terms white nationalism and white supremacy.
Unbound by the restraints of federal office, King once again defended his hateful ideology at AFPAC, unleashing the bizarre claim that his troubles stemmed from George Soros ― a billionaire philanthropist frequently targeted by antisemitic conspiracy theorists ― deciding “to weaponize ‘white nationalist.’”
King’s first mention of Soros drew boos from the crowd, prompting him to quip, “You say, Donald Trump’s an applause line — George Soros, not so much!”
He appeared to echo Trump’s battle-focused language that critics say helped incite his supporters to attack the Capitol, telling the crowd that they were “making allies for a lifetime” as “battle warriors for a lifetime to restore the strength of America.” King then concluded his remarks with a stunningly racist call to action that elicited loud chants of “USA!”
“We can restore this country, and we can do it with our babies, and we can do it with our values! God bless you all!” King said.