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Matt Gaetz meets Joy Behar; both survive

Gaetz kept smiling, but the conversation was anything but friendly.

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz entered the lions’ den Thursday, appearing on ABC’s liberal talk show “The View” where he took umbrage to the suggestion that President Donald Trump is his boss, defended Trump and Richard Grennell, and urged a presidential pardon for Roger Stone.

Gaetz, the Fort Walton Beach Congressman who has positioned himself as one of Trump’s most fervent defenders, largely avoided taking any shots at his own record during a seven-minute appearance that often broke down to where he and the hosts shouted over each other, drowning out points and counterpoints.

From the get-go, it was not a friendly conversation. While Gaetz tried to smile throughout — and the hosts, Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Sunny Hostin, and Meghan McCain, did not — Gaetz came in on the offensive, while Behar suggested he probably never watches their show.

Along the way, he made fun of Behar’s black outfit, accused the hosts of being thin-skinned and said he imagined they all would be mourning “the death of the political left.”

He also declared the demise of former Vice President Joe Biden‘s Democratic presidential campaign and trashed the whole Democratic field of candidates and Sen. Bernie Sanders as the “throwback left and the Venezuela wing of the Democratic Party.”

“Oh come, on! The Venezuela wing?” Behar objected.

While ABC displayed a picture of Gaetz and Stone chumming it up, Gaetz said he believes Trump should pardon the President’s former campaign adviser and close friend. Stone was sentenced Thursday to three years and four months in prison after being convicted of federal charges of obstructing justice, witness tampering, and lying to Congress.

After McCain decried, “Oh come on!”, leading to a multi-person shouting match, Gaetz suggested that a pardon is fair, “if for no other reason than there has been a double standard in this country” as criminal charges are prosecuted against Trump loyalists, but not against Trump opponents whom Trump and allies like Gaetz believe also committed federal crimes.

He defended Trump appointing Grennell, the American ambassador to Germany, as acting national intelligence director, insisting that he is qualified, and insisting that Behar was wrong in suggesting that Trump surrounds himself with people who won’t challenge him, pointing to former National Security Adviser John Bolton as an example.

Gaetz also deflected a followup point, by turning to the subject that Grennell is openly gay.

“I would like to take a second to reflect on the fact that it is a good thing in this country that we do not ban gay people from being able to patriotically serve in the intelligence community,” he said.

“Just transgender people,” offered Hostin.

“Well, we shouldn’t be banning anybody based on who they are and who they love,” Gaetz said. “That’s not the kind of Republican I am. That’s not the kind of Republican the President is.”

Gaetz seemed to misstep a couple of times, as he tried to keep in front of the conversation.

He accused Bloomberg of being a former Republican, only to have Behar remind him that Trump used to be a Democrat.

And to a question citing Trump’s alleged infidelities, Gaetz responded, “If cheating on your wife is a disqualification to be President, then you all probably should have impeached Bill Clinton.

To which Goldberg pointed out, “they did.”

“Not with all of you waving any pompoms,” Gaetz said, trying to salvage his point.

“I don’t know what that means,” Hostin interjected.

Mostly Gaetz’s message was that “we have a raging economy right now” and it is because of Trump; and that consequently, no Democrat can beat him. When McCain questioned him about how Trump might overcome the fact that many women, even conservative women like herself, are deeply turned off by his character issues, Gaetz’s response was that women will vote for him because he created jobs for them.

Early on, Gaetz attempted to find a chance to appear to be defending his constituents in Florida’s 1st Congressional District, in the far-western Panhandle.

“Let’s talk about your boss for a second,” Behar said, “Because yesterday…”

“Well, my boss are the people of Northwest Florida,” Gaetz replied.

“Yeah, OK,” Behar conceded. “So yesterday, Trump …”

“Don’t dismiss them,” Gaetz interrupted. “It’s the highest concentration of active-duty military in the country. I know Meghan’s dad served there. So don’t. You can attack me if you want, but don’t attack my constituents.”

Behar got in the last shot, at the end of the segment, declaring:

“We want to thank Matt… Jatz? Gatz?”

“Gaetz,” Gaetz corrected.

“We’ll be right back,” she closed.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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