Embattled Matt Gaetz receives hero’s welcome in The Villages
Matt Gaetz at the Villages. Image via AP.

gaetz greene
Gaetz was joined by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz began his first of a series of “America First” rallies Friday in “America’s Friendliest Hometown,” in front of a rapturous, raucous crowd on his 39th birthday.

“We send a strong message to the weak establishment in both parties. America First isn’t going away … we’re going on tour!”

The Congressman, accompanied by U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, countermessaged a wide-ranging federal investigation into the Congressman that continues to generate news coverage and social media speculation.

“The deep state is real,” Gaetz said.

Gaetz referred to himself as a “wanted” man, a “canceled” man, but a “Florida man,” a line practiced from the Trump rally circuit of the pandemic election of 2020.

“Unbossed, unbought, unbowed: that is the mantra of America First,” Gaetz said, channeling former U.S. Rep. Shirley Chisholm, who used the line in a very different context (a historic presidential campaign) than here.

The Panhandle Republican used familiar us-against-them constructs, whipping up the crowd with very few dead spots in the oratory. If the energy flagged, Gaetz simply extolled or channeled Donald Trump and excoriated those forces aligned against Trump, Gaetz, and Greene, including the “America Last” media.

“They try to defame, deplatform, and destroy what they cannot control,” Gaetz said of “Big Government, Big Media, and Big Tech.”

Greene opened up for Gaetz, and almost immediately advanced discredited claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged as part of a cheerful fusillade of MAGA-friendly pandering, soundbites, jokes, and conspiracy theories.

“Do you guys really think he won? I didn’t see this kind of support for a man who stayed in the basement for an entire year campaigning, did you,” Greene said to cheers.

Shock lines were the Congresswoman’s stock-in-trade, delivered with a pause at the end as if roadtesting crowd reaction for future engagements.

“You’d have thought a bomb went off in there,” Greene recounted when talking about her penchant for calling for recorded votes.

Greene also maligned the unemployed for taking “bailout checks, staying home and not wanting to go to work.”

“There’s only two genders, male and female. Trust the science,” Greene jibed at another point.

The spectacle obscures the larger issue, which is a probe of some consequence.

Reportedly, federal investigators are probing a 2018 trip Gaetz took with Dr. Jason Pirozzolo and Halsey Beshears to the Bahamas. Prosecutors with the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section are examining whether Gaetz took gifts, including travel and paid escorts, in exchange for political favors, according to CNN. Gaetz denies any wrongdoing.

“I have not sex-trafficked anyone. A 17-year-old, a person of legal age,” Gaetz said on Newsmax this week in a primetime appearance. “These allegations are false. And as I’ve stated before, the anonymous allegations against me range from total distortions of my life to these crazy wild conspiracy theories that will never be proven.”

House Ethics Committee inquiry was launched last month, and will probe “public allegations that Representative Matt Gaetz may have engaged in sexual misconduct and/or illicit drug use, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe, improper gratuity, or impermissible gift, in violation of House Rules, laws, or other standards of conduct.”

Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg faces a deadline of May 15 to enter a plea deal that could lead to damaging information against the congressman.

Greene is not without controversy herself — the congresswoman was stripped of her congressional assignments last February for incendiary social media posts expressing racist views, promoting conspiracy theories and endorsing threats of violence against elected officials.

Gaetz, for his part, continues to cling to Gov. Ron DeSantis, milking the Governor’s name for an applause line during an encore. He reminded the crowd that he was with the DeSantis campaign when “you could fit the whole campaign in a phone booth and still have room.”

The event closed with a full-throated chorus of “Happy Birthday” for the Congressman, hundreds of hearty lungs belting out a few lines in tribute.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • tom palmer

    May 7, 2021 at 8:25 pm

    Glad to see GOP stenography alive and well at Florida Politics.

  • jim

    May 8, 2021 at 12:14 am

    Patriots…… The National Basketball Association, MSM and Major League Baseball have become political action committee’s for President Harris and her puppet Joe Biden. In addition, the following companies (listed below) worked on Joe Biden’s behalf, campaigned for Biden and other Democrats, fund raised for BLM and other far left activist organizations.

    Financial Boycott whenever possible the following.

    NBA/WNBA, MLB, Modelo Beer, Pacifico Beer, Sonic, Corona Beer, Wendy’s, US Bank, Coca-Cola products, State Farm Insurance, The General Insurance, Nerdwallet, Dunkin Donuts, Baskin Robbins, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Best Buy, Wayfair, Kohls, Cigna, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Microsoft, Home Depot, Vivint, Verizon, New York Times, Washington Post, All late night comedy shows, USA today, ESPN, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, TNT, TBS, TLC, PBS, OWN, Oxygen, Discovery Channel, Discovery Plus, Bloomberg, Facebook, Twitter.

    • tjb

      May 8, 2021 at 7:41 am

      jim, get back on your meds. They help your paranoia. I hope you get well soon.

      • zhombre

        May 8, 2021 at 8:35 am

        tjb stands for total jerk & boob, n’est-ce pas?

  • Frankie M.

    May 8, 2021 at 1:15 pm

    Gaetz is a legend in his own mind. Just ask him.

  • Jim

    May 8, 2021 at 5:16 pm

    There was an outbreak of sexually transmitted diseases in the Villages a few years ago. Apparently disgression and monogamy wasn’t one of the more prized qualities of a good number of the randy seniors. Hopefully Gaetz appearance as the Pied Piper of Libertine pseudo-conservatism doesn’t signal a return of the STD epidemic.

    • Candy

      May 8, 2021 at 5:30 pm

      Hahaha. Thr villages is full of nasty ass old people that actually have a system for picking up sex with others they use pool noodles on the back of their golf carts. Like a pink one means (not sure the real rules for the colors it’s just an example)male open to male on male action purple/open to sharing my wife. Green swinging couple looking to swap ect ect. ect. The same for tennis balls and their colors on the antenna of the cars

  • Liz

    May 9, 2021 at 5:27 pm

    Sicko Gaetz and co conspirator of all sexual predators Greene. One would be hard pressed to find two more vile creatures on the planet. Could The Grand Old Pervert Party sink any lower? Time to disband.

  • Laurie Hamilton

    May 10, 2021 at 7:10 pm

    Biden has a 71% approval rating. You are never ever going to beat him with Trump. And he lost the election. Let’s please stop embarrassing ourselves as a state. So cringe!


    May 17, 2021 at 5:13 pm

    I should be more worry about Cuomo still a mayor, many women have accused him of sexual harassments, many people died because of his negligence.
    Biden son Hunter sleeping with children.
    The daughter of Maxine water was paid a lot of money from campaign funds, for a job she didn’t do.
    Ilman Omar used campaign funds in expenses for her boyfriend, Ocasio Cortez misused campaign funds, but nobody seem to care because they are democrats, corrupt democrats.

    • Jim

      May 17, 2021 at 5:55 pm

      Cuomo is a governor, not a mayor. You should be more worried about your limited knowledge of current events.

Comments are closed.


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