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Idaho’s Lt. Governor delivers taped speech to white nationalist meeting

Idaho

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BOISE (AP) — Idaho Republican Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin and Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene were among the speakers at a white nationalist gathering in Florida.

McGeachin delivered a taped speech to the America First Political Action Conference on Friday and Greene appeared in person. McGeachin appears to be one of the highest-ranking elected state officials to have ever participated in one of the group’s gatherings.

Video on social media from the Orlando gathering showed attendees cheering for Russian President Vladimir Putin, after he ordered his forces to invade Ukraine.

McGeachin, who is running in Idaho’s gubernatorial campaign, told those gathered in Florida that she needs “freedom fighters all over this country that are willing to stand up and fight” even when that means fighting “amongst our own ranks.”

She said that while serving as acting Idaho governor, she twice issued executive orders involving COVID-19 vaccinations and mask mandates while Republican Gov. Brad Little was out of the state. Little has never issued a statewide mask mandate and fought President Joe Biden’s vaccine requirements.

The America First Political Action Conference that hosted the Orlando event is led by Nick Fuentes, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a white nationalist who is attempting to push the Republican Party to the extreme far-right.

McGeachin in a statement on Twitter said she was invited by the America First Political Action Conference to submit a video, “and I took the opportunity to share my views about these vital America First policies.”

She added that the “media wants us to play a guilt-by-association game.”

McGeachin’s chief of staff, Jordan Watters, didn’t respond on Saturday to email and phone messages seeking further comment on McGeachin’s decision to address the gathering.

A group of more moderate Idaho Republicans who are members of a group called Take Back Idaho on Saturday called for McGeachin to resign, saying her speech at the gathering “shows that she is openly courting the most extreme fringes of society.”

Greene, according to various media reports, said she wasn’t aware of Fuentes’ views.

Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming took issue with Republicans taking part in what she called a “white supremacist, anti-Semitic, pro-Putin event.”

On Twitter, she also took issue with fellow Republicans remaining silent.

“All Americans should renounce this garbage and reject the Putin wing of the GOP now,” she tweeted.

Cheney has been setting multiple personal fundraising records despite a GOP backlash over her vote to impeach Trump in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and for her unrelenting public criticism of Trump. Trump backs her Republican opponent in Wyoming’s Republican primary in August.

Trump has endorsed McGeachin for Idaho governor. Little, who often touts the state’s record budget surplus of about $2 billion and significant cuts in state regulations, has not announced he’s running for reelection but is widely expected to do so in the coming weeks.

Idaho hasn’t had a Democratic governor in decades and the state’s gubernatorial election is typically decided during Idaho’s Republican primary in May because the winner of that contest almost always wins the later general election.

Another well-recognized name in the gubernatorial race, antigovernment activist Ammon Bundy, earlier this month dropped out of the Republican primary to run as an independent.

Bundy attracted international attention when he led a group of armed activists in the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon to protest federal control of public lands. He was later acquitted of federal charges in connection with the occupation.

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