Two of the most controversial members of Congress declared war on the establishment in the launch of their America First tour Friday night in The Villages.
Congressman Matt Gaetz, embroiled in a sex trafficking scandal, and Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, stripped of any committee assignments, wore their renegade status as a badge of honor before a mostly maskless red-white-and-blue packed house at the Brownwood Hotel & Spa. A long line snaked around the exterior of the building, but the hopefuls had no realistic chance of landing a spot in the 300-person room, which filled up early. Gaetz estimated the crowd outside at 1,000 strong.
Villagers made up a sizable chunk of those inside, many of them regularly seen at Trump rallies in the past in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown.
Gaetz joked that it was his birthday and poked fun at CNN, part of the throng of media that filled up the overcrowded “press pen” at the back of the room.
“I know what the headline will be on CNN,” Gaetz said. “Matt Gaetz has wild party surrounded by beautiful women in The Villages.”
The crowd roared its approval.
He praised his fellow America First Congressional companion from Georgia.
“She has lost her committees. I might lose mine. But we have a power they cannot take away,” said Gaetz, who represents Florida’s 1st Congressional District.
The pair took aim at the Democrats, but appeared equally angry with the GOP leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Greene, a first-time politician, mother and businesswoman, gleefully bragged about gumming up the works in Congress by calling for recorded voice votes. She considered it revenge on the Republicans in Congress who were more hindrance than help to President Trump when he initially took office.
Gaetz also delighted in playing the spoiler.
“They lie about us because we tell the truth about them,” he said.
Gaetz and Greene have vowed to take their America First tour to every place in the country that remains loyal to Donald Trump, who they see as the rightful president of the United States.
“We have never abandoned Trump and he will never abandon us,” Gaetz said.
The event also drew protesters who lined up across the street from the hotel, camped out at the entrance to the Atwood Bungalows.