Jun 17, 2020 - Politics & Policy

House Republicans denounce leading Georgia GOP candidate after racist videos emerge

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Some of the House's highest-ranking Republicans have moved to actively distance themselves from Marjorie Greene, who came out on top in a Georgia congressional primary last week, after Politico discovered videos of her making racist comments.

The state of play: Greene, already a known believer in the QAnon conspiracy theory, repeatedly expresses racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic views in the videos — which appear to have been recorded between late 2017 and early 2019.

  • The revelation comes just weeks after Iowa Rep. Steve King — with his own history of racist remarks — lost his own primary, ending the career of one of the House Republican caucus' most controversial voices.
  • Greene faces an Aug. 11 runoff against physician John Cowan, who trailed her by 20 points in the primary.

In the videos, Greene denies the existence of structural racism in the U.S., blaming minorities' problems on gangs, drugs and abortions; makes Islamophobic comments against Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the first Muslim women elected to Congress in 2018; and touts a conspiracy theory that Democratic donor George Soros, who is Jewish, collaborated with the Nazis during World War II.

  • "Guess what? Slavery is over. ... Black people have equal rights," she says in one video. In another, she adds, "I know a ton of white people that are as lazy and sorry and probably worse than black people. ... And that has everything to do with their bad choices and their personal responsibility. That is not a skin color issue."
  • She called the 2018 midterms "an Islamic invasion of our government," adding that "anyone that is a Muslim that believes in Sharia law does not belong in our government."

Greene's campaign spokesperson did not deny that the videos were real when contacted by Politico.

  • He instead responded: "[Thanks] for the reminder about Soros. We forgot to put him in our newest ad. We’re fixing that now. ... Would you like me to send you a copy?"

What they're saying: Drew Florio, a spokesperson for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), told Politico, "These comments are appalling, and Leader McCarthy has no tolerance for them."

  • House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said, "The comments made by Ms. Greene are disgusting and don't reflect the values of equality and decency that make our country great. I will be supporting Dr. Cowan."
  • A group of Georgia members also moved to back Cowan.

Worth noting: Greene had nabbed notable endorsements from some top House Republicans already, including Freedom Caucus chair Rep. Andy Biggs (Ariz.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio).

  • Jordan told Politico that he disagreed with Greene's statements, but did not explicitly pull his endorsement. Biggs did not comment.
  • And President Trump congratulated Greene last week, calling her a "big winner."
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