Feb 9, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Nancy Mace lights up Republicans at Press Club event

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) listens during an House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building on February 01, 2023. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) delivered a number of shots to her fellow Republicans during a Wednesday roast that were so sick that it could put her in hot water (again).

Why it matters: It’s a lighthearted dinner, but Mace’s overwhelming focus on GOP friendly fire rather than barbs towards Democrats and the press is emblematic of a broader stylistic and tonal break between her and her party.

  • Lawmakers and the journalists who cover them filled a ballroom at the Waldorf Astoria (formerly the Trump Hotel) on Wednesday at the Washington Press Club Foundation 77th Annual Congressional Dinner to honor the free press.
  • “I know everyone thinks Republicans aren’t funny. But if you get a bunch of us together, we can be a real riot," Mace said.
  • Mace had the crowd in stitches, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who occupied plenty of real estate in the speech.

Between the lines: Mace previously spoke at an Axios event about House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Cal.) calling her into the "principal's office" for her public criticism of her fellow Republicans.

  • “There’s one reason I was chosen to be the Republican speaker tonight, and it’s because Kevin McCarthy couldn’t get the votes.”
  • "Did you watch McCarthy during the speaker vote? I haven’t seen someone assume that many positions to appease crazy Republicans since Stormy Daniels," she said Wednesday.

Mace jabbed at former President Trump and Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), the latest Republican lawmaker to endorse him: “I mean who lies about playing college volleyball," she said of Santos, who repeatedly lied about his college experience.

  • "If you’re going to lie make it about something big, like you actually won the 2020 presidential election.”
  • "C'mon, George, you give Republicans a bad name. And that's Lauren Boebert's job."

Mace didn't shy away from any of the GOP controversies that many Republicans would like to avoid.

  • On Greene, who attended the event and has been criticized for antisemitic remarks: “Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about antisemitism. But since Marjorie Taylor Greene started behaving, the rate of Jewish space laser attacks is now zero.”
  • On Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fl.), who was reportedly the subject of an investigation involving a teenage girl: "We all knew Matt Gaetz wouldn’t let the speaker vote get to 18. I do have a message from Matt — he really wanted to be here tonight, but he couldn’t find a babysitter.”

The bottom line: Mace is attempting to carve out a lane as an independent conservative not afraid to challenge leadership or pushback against the GOP base.

  • But that strategy could impact her ability to work with key Republicans in passing bills that will improve the party's standing with voters.
  • Mace has stayed loyal on major votes thus far this Congress.

Go deeper: See the C-SPAN footage

Editor's note: This article has been corrected to show the proper name of the event.

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