Matt Gaetz turns Donald Trump support into recognition

Matt Gaetz
Gaetz’s blunt candor has endeared him to voters in his district.

Long before Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz was calling the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee “Captain Kangaroo,” he built a reputation as an agitator who wasn’t shy about calling out other lawmakers on social media or with reporters.

During a news conference Tuesday, Gaetz mocked U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California who is leading the impeachment probe into President Donald Trump’s conversation with Ukraine about political rival Joe Biden.

“What we see in this impeachment is a kangaroo court, and Chairman Schiff is acting like a malicious Captain Kangaroo,” Gaetz said, referring to the beloved children’s television character who first went on air 27 years before Gaetz was born.

Gaetz, 37, is only in his third year in Congress, yet he has already become nationally recognized as one of Trump’s most ardent defenders. He’s a frequent guest on cable news stations and has appeared with the president several times. While his style works in his Florida Panhandle district, one of the state’s most conservative, liberal Democrats love to hate him — and he seems to revel in the criticism.

“He knows exactly what he’s doing,” said Democratic state Rep. Evan Jenne, who was often on the opposite side of Gaetz in Florida. “How many other sophomore congressmen are getting consistent phone calls from the White House? … Any third-year congressperson would have to be envious of the amount of influence he has on the national stage in such a short period of time. And let’s be honest, he’s obtained this, in part, because of saying stuff that sounds a little bit kooky.”

Jenne called the Captain Kangaroo comment tame compared to some of what he’s heard Gaetz say in the decade he’s known him. But Jenne also called Gaetz a friend, someone he greets with a hug and with whom he has worked closely on environmental and other issues.

“Matt is a highly intelligent individual. If anyone thinks that’s not the case, you’re doing yourself a disservice because he’s going to run over you if you’re not prepared to debate with the guy,” Jenne said. “Matt loves, loves, loves a good political fistfight. He loves it.”

On Tuesday night, Gaetz spoke at a political event in Niceville for a local school superintendent candidate. He looked like a star in his district as he slowly moved through the crowd. As supporters made their way toward him, one man said: “He’s like the president. You can’t get to him.”

Gaetz barely made it to the event on time after he was forced to change his flight when Trump called him to the White House that morning.

Gaetz later told The Associated Press that he and Trump talked about Syria. That same day, Trump announced he was withdrawing troops from northeastern Syria — a decision Gaetz supports.

“I am incredibly grateful that this is the first president since Ronald Reagan to not start a new war. My generation is weary of these endless wars. We have been trading the same villages back and forth in Afghanistan for 18 years,” Gaetz said. “I think about what the global picture would look like if Donald Trump had not won. If you had a President Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, we’d probably be at war with two out of the four: Syria, Venezuela, Iran, North Korea.”

While true to many core Republican values, Gaetz also works with Democrats both on environmental matters — he and Democratic U.S. Rep. Scott Peters of California are co-sponsoring a bill to reduce climate pollutants — and issues such as medical marijuana.

“I come from the pro-science wing of the Republican Party. I understand that the Earth is warming, that medical marijuana can help people live better lives and no one chooses to be gay. I can’t believe that any of those things are still issues of debate among any group of intelligent adults,” Gaetz said. “As we see more young people enter the Congress, we start to see more issues divide us generationally rather than just by party affiliation.”

Like Trump, one of Gaetz’s favorite tools is Twitter. His Twitter profile includes a quote from Trump describing Gaetz: ”‘He’s a machine … handsome and going places’ says @realDonaldTrump.”

And Trump and Gaetz often target the same people. Last week Gaetz took aim at Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, whom Trump calls “Pocahontas” because of her claims to have Native American ancestry. “The Fake Indian spreads Fake News,” Gaetz tweeted.

In February, Gaetz attacked Trump lawyer Michael Cohen prior to his testimony before a House committee, tweeting, “Hey @MichaelCohen212 – Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot…”

When the tweet was perceived as a threat, he deleted it and apologized — sort of. Before getting to, “I’m sorry,” Gaetz tweeted, “it is important 2 create context around the testimony of liars like Michael Cohen.”

While in the Florida House, Gaetz made headlines in 2015 for questioning the intelligence of two black lawmakers. Some said the tweet was racist, and Republicans and Democrats alike condemned it. The Republican House Speaker at the time, Steve Crisafulli, apologized for the remark, but also defended Gaetz. “He is an agitator, yes, but not a racist,” Crisafulli tweeted.

Former state Sen. Arthenia Joyner, one of the black lawmakers, said Gaetz hasn’t changed. “He’s just an attack dog who can’t help himself, because he’s privileged and was born with a silver foot in his mouth,” Joyner said.

But Gaetz’s blunt candor has endeared him to voters in his district. He won reelection last year with 67 percent of the vote.

“What’s refreshing is hearing the truth,” said Jim Heald, a 66-year-old retired Air Force officer and a registered Democrat. “What I don’t like is when someone is deceiving me, and Matt’s telling the truth. I’m a big supporter.”


Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Brendan Farrington


  • Chuck

    October 10, 2019 at 6:40 am

    Matt is a joke…Half of his district is still demolished form a hurricane and his hero Trump has diverted funding from areas like FEMA to build a wall. Matt is a big mouth do nothing hack that the 1st district needs to wake up from.

  • Sonja Fitch

    October 10, 2019 at 7:47 am

    Really? Gaetz is. Donotin’ goptrumper! Gaetz is the lead evil clown of cult trump. I do not believe that the good and decent folks in the Panhandle buy this drunk lying cult clown of Trumps GAETZ !!!

    • John Kociuba

      October 11, 2019 at 5:00 am

      Dear Citizens,

      Planned parenthood announced they’re going to spend 45 million dollars of your tax money to overthrow Republican candidates in local and federal districts.

      TRUMP/PENCE 2020!

    • John Kociuba

      October 11, 2019 at 5:05 am

      Tv has done it’s damage on you! You’re want the leftist Clandestine Communist Operatives call “useful idiots!”

      Get a Civics education! “The Specter Of Communism!”

  • Jane

    October 10, 2019 at 8:24 am

    Panhandle Democrats and Republicans alike who are paying attention and understand completely that Matt Gaetz & President Trump are looking out for them unlike the communist Democratic Party who care only about power by extorting illegals & poor folks with food stamps & welfare for votes!

  • John Kociuba

    October 10, 2019 at 8:44 am

    Dear citizens,

    Most of you never had Civics in school nor were taught about hard cell clandestine communist operations and the dark arts of politics. The modern Democratic Party is the Communist party! Victor L. Berger was the first Communist elected to U.S. Congress in the early 1900s. Yes. Communism is Sedition against the Constitution by its very definition and therefore ILLEFAL in the United States.

    Yes. One can be arrested, assets seized, interrogated, and if given citizenship thru naturalization as an immigrant you would lose citizenship. Yes. Sedition against the Constitution whether verbal or physical is illegal! This is mentioned in the Constitution 3 times. Sedition against “Agents” who pervert or subvert the Constitution whether verbal or physical is LEGAL to PROTECT the SOCIAL CONTRACT!

    Indeed I/We The People are SUPREME LAW above ALL LAW! This is what Hon. Congressman Matt Gaetz is trying to educate you in.

    Duckduckgo search engine and research Black Bolsheviks or Labor Progressive Party in the United States or Communist Harry Haywood and Cyril Briggs, Earl Browder, Saul Alinsky, Hegel, Marx, Mao, pol-pot etc.

    Furthermore go to and go to their audio book THE SPECTER OF COMMUNISM!


  • NoMoreRepublicans!

    October 10, 2019 at 11:11 am

    Gaetz is a Gotz! Jordan is a Jerk!

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704