U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler accepted the endorsement Thursday of congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene, a controversial fellow Republican who has spread baseless QAnon conspiracy theories and posted racist and xenophobic videos on social media.
Standing alongside Greene at a scenic park in west Georgia, the Republican senator said “no one in Georgia cares about this QAnon business” as she touted her latest endorsement.
“I know how the media twists people’s words. They do it over and over,” she said. “They even make up things. And what we agree on is that we are fighting socialism, that we are promoting conservative values. And I’m not going to stand for an attack on her character because she has stood for American values.”
Greene, who arrived with Loeffler at the park pavilion in Dallas on a flag-festooned Hummer, called The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other media outlets “fake news." And she said she would work in Congress to fight "Big Tech censorship, protecting freedoms — even freedom of press,” Greene said shortly before aides abruptly wrapped up the event as reporters shouted more questions.
Loeffler’s campaign hopes the endorsement gives her a boost in her brutal feud with U.S. Rep. Doug Collins. The two Republicans are trying to outgun each other for far-right conservative votes in the 20-candidate special election for Loeffler’s seat, and polls show they’re in a tight race for second place behind Democrat Raphael Warnock.
Whether Greene’s support is a difference-maker for Loeffler’s push to make a January runoff remains to be seen. But Greene has quickly become a force within some GOP circles, and she’ll soon represent a deeply conservative northwest Georgia district that stretches from Atlanta’s outskirts to the Tennessee border.
Her backing comes with baggage. Greene has a history of peddling the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory that falsely claims President Donald Trump is secretly fighting a “deep state” that protects sex traffickers and pedophiles — a bizarre belief the FBI has labeled a potential domestic terrorism threat.
And she’s insinuated that the 2017 Las Vegas massacre was orchestrated, warned of an “Islamic invasion” after two Muslims won congressional races, described Black people as “slaves” to Democrats and defended a lie that George Soros, the billionaire Jewish philanthropist, collaborated with the Nazis.
But Loeffler’s campaign is betting that the short-term gain of winning Greene’s endorsement outweighs any potential long-term damage the senator could face from being tied to her incendiary remarks in a possible runoff. At the event, she downplayed Greene’s past remarks and called her the embodiment of the “American dream.”
“No one in Georgia cares about this QAnon business. It’s something that fake news is going to continue to bring up and ignore antifa and the violence promoted across this country,” said Loeffler, adding: “That’s not going to distract us. It never has distracted her.”
Georgia Democrats promised it would come back to haunt her. Alex Floyd of the state Democratic party said it showed there was “apparently no limit to how hard Senator Kelly Loeffler will pander to save her campaign.”
“Bragging about an endorsement from a candidate like Marjorie Taylor Greene who has been denounced by members of her own party as ‘appalling’ shows yet again just how out-of-touch Senator Loeffler is with Georgians,” he said.
Greene, a former construction executive, initially entered a crowded race for a suburban Atlanta congressional seat last year, but she switched contests after U.S. Rep. Tom Graves announced he wouldn’t stand for another term.
She won a runoff to represent the ruby-red 14th Congressional District in August and clinched victory when Democrat Kevin Van Ausdal abruptly quit his campaign and moved to Indiana. Trump raised her profile by dubbing Greene a “future Republican star” and, since then, she’s become a staple on Georgia’s campaign trail.
Still, many state Republicans have kept her at arm’s length, wary of Democratic efforts to brand her as the face of the Georgia GOP. Among them is U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who is locked in a tough reelection battle and has largely sidestepped mention of her. So have several other prominent Republicans running in more moderate districts.
That’s not the case for Loeffler or Collins, who both jockeyed for Greene’s support. It became clearer that Loeffler won out when she appeared with Greene at a September rally ringed by members of a local militia group.
At the event, Greene said Loeffler’s vocal criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement helped win her support. The senator, who co-owns Atlanta’s WNBA franchise, objected to the league’s plan to honor the movement in July, and she has lashed out at the “cancel culture” criticism it provoked.
“If Black lives mattered to this organization, they would care about all the Black babies that die every single day through abortion, they would care about the Black lives that are taken on Black-on-Black crime,” she said.
Credit: C.B. Schmelter/Chattanooga Times
Credit: C.B. Schmelter/Chattanooga Times