Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and former Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, spoke at the America First Political Action Conference Friday night, where they shared the stage with AFPAC founder Nick Fuentes, the leader of a white nationalist youth movement whose record of bigotry and extremism has led to him being banned from social media platforms and from CPAC, the right-wing political conference being held nearby in Orlando. Gosar’s appearance at AFPAC did not disqualify him from speaking at CPAC on a Saturday morning panel.
AFPAC held its inaugural conference last year with a speaker line-up that read as a who’s who of white nationalist and hard-right figures. Right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin returned to this year’s AFPAC, which she claimed had triple the number of attendees as last year’s event.
“We have God on our side,” said Fuentes in his keynote address, repeatedly invoking God and Jesus in support of his anti-immigration, anti-globalist, anti-Republican-establishment, white nationalist and Christian nationalist “America First” agenda.
America is not an idea, Fuentes said at AFPAC, but a particular people in a particular place. “If America ceases to be this people, if America ceases to retain that English cultural framework and the influence of European civilization, if it loses its white demographic core, and if it loses its faith in Jesus Christ, this is not America anymore,” Fuentes said.
“America is a Christian nation,” he said. “And that’s not just a slogan. When I say that America is a Christian nation, I’m saying that Jesus Christ is the son of God and this is one nation under that God.” Fuentes and other AFPAC speakers were interrupted by chants of “Christ is king!”—Blaze TV’s Jon Miller after declaring that the movement’s opponents “hate Christ.”
Fuentes was at the rally outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, he told the AFPAC crowd. When he saw “patriots” surrounding the building and police retreating and heard that politicians were “scurrying” to safety, “I said to myself, ‘This is awesome!’”
“We have been beat up and betrayed and spit on, stepped on, for decades, and to see the tables turned for once was a little bit refreshing actually,” he said.
“We need a little bit more of that energy in the future,” he said, referring to people rising up with torches and pitchforks. Then he smilingly disavowed violence, adding, “I think that will stand up in court.” The country was not founded by following the rules, he said, praising the “lighthearted mischief” on display at the Capitol.
Besides, he said, the Capitol is not a sacred temple of democracy, but the seat of an “evil empire.” Fuentes said the real struggle in American politics is between a populist America First movement and “the evil people that now rule this country”—a regime that in his telling includes media, Hollywood, academia, the “deep state,” the national security apparatus, the “billionaire class,” Big Tech, Big Pharma, Big Agriculture, and Big Energy. Mocking the messages from the conservative establishment, he said the real battle is not to “stave off socialism in America” but a battle between “the globalist American regime and the people that they rule.”
Fuentes took part in the 2017 Unite the Right gathering in Charlottesville and so-called “Stop the Steal” events after the 2020 election. In 2018, Fuentes said that violence against racial and ethnic minorities would be an acceptable trade-off for restoring “a core American identity centered around ethnicity and race” and ending the “gang-rape of America by the Third World.”
At AFPAC, Fuentes denounced “anti-white agenda of the mainstream media” and “the creation of a new racial caste system in this country with whites at the bottom.” He said this is a sovereignty issue because it is an attack on the country’s white “demographic core.” Black Lives Matter is “challenging the very existence of the United States of America as it is and the historic American nation,” Fuentes said. “This challenge to the existence of our country must be matched and exceeded with equal ferocity and intensity in defense of America.”
“White people founded this country,” he declared. “This country wouldn’t exist without white people. And white people are done being bullied.” He acknowledged that the U.S. is a multicultural society and said it would only work if white people were treated with the same dignity and respect they deserve.
Fuentes made a name for himself by mobilizing fellow white nationalist activists—“groypers”—to publicly criticize right-wing groups and speakers like Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk and Donald Trump, Jr. for not being sufficiently devoted, in Fuentes’ eyes, to the principles of the America First movement.
That was also a major theme of his AFPAC speech in which he said the biggest threat to the America First movement comes from politicians who use the movement’s rhetoric and draw from its energy while promoting an establishment agenda. Among his targets were right-wing Reps. Dan Crenshaw and Madison Cawthorn, the latter of whom Fuentes mocked for talking about “standing up” for principles even though he uses a wheelchair.
Fuentes described former President Donald Trump as the “rightful ruler” of the Republican Party and leader of the America First movement, someone whose trash-talking showed people that he is a “real human being” and not someone “grown in a petri dish in a laboratory at the Heritage Foundation” and “groomed for power by the same establishment that we are fighting against.”
Fuentes touts his movement as the real followers of Donald Trump. Like other right-wing activists, he is calling for Republican politicians who did not stand with Trump after the 2020 elections—“traitors”—to be defeated in primaries.
But he will not accept just any challenger. He mocked Catalina Lauf, a Republican who has promoted a pro-Trump and America First message in announcing her challenge to impeachment-supporting Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. Fuentes dismissed Lauf’s promotion of her status as a daughter of legal immigrants from Guatemala, suggesting that immigrants who come to the U.S. to pursue the American Dream are basically selfish. Fuentes criticized conservatives who differentiate between legal and illegal immigration, saying all immigration is a challenge to the power, influence and sovereignty of “native” Americans.
Fuentes closed his remarks by asserting that “We have God on our side” and that “God has the final victory.” And he declared, “This is the real America First movement and we are inevitable!”
King and Gozar spoke before Fuentes took the stage.
Steve King, who was defeated by primary voters in 2020 after his House Republican colleagues took action against him following years of racist rhetoric, was introduced with a video that included a clip of him declaring, “I have nothing to apologize for.”
King praised attendees, saying that if you had to go somewhere and find the people to start a country from scratch, it would be the people in that room. He encouraged them to get married and have a lot of babies and raise them as the next America First generation. “We can restore this country, and we can do it with our babies, and we can do it with our values,” King said.
King defended the Confederate battle flag as an emblem of “Southern pride” and said those who have “turned it into a symbol of evil slavery” are out to destroy western civilization. He said the U.S. derives its strength from free enterprise capitalism, Western civilization, and “Judeo-Christianity.”
King belittled the movement for reparations for slavery, saying that it disregards “the price that was paid in blood” to end slavery during the Civil War. He said that “three African Americans have acknowledged this to me”—two of them being right-wing media personalities and conspiracy theorists Diamond and Silk.
King read a prayer spoken by English settlers in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, which dedicated the settlers to raising up “godly generations” that would “take the kingdom of God to all the earth.”
King was followed by Gosar, whose introductory video included a clip of him on the floor of the House of Representatives in January where he challenged the counting of Arizona’s Electoral College votes.
“We’re in the fight of our lifetime,” Gosar said, warning about “shadowy elites in the deep state” colluding with Big Tech to “usurp” the White House from Trump, “the people’s president” and disenfranchise his supporters.
Gosar said the Republican Party can run and win on an America First agenda, including immigration and ending “censorship” of Big Tech. Gosar mentioned deplatformed right-wing activist Laura Loomer, who was in attendance, saying she had been “relegated to a third-class citizenship” and “unpersoned,” calling her a “our canary in the coal mine.”
Gosar said the U.S. is experiencing a “climate crisis of intolerance” led by angry, violent communists who suppress free speech, votes, and citizens. He said the “China virus” was “weaponized” against Trump and the American people.
“The Biden administration is gearing up to attack Americans” and “put America last,” Gosar claimed. But “men don’t gripe about fairness,” he said, praising the “high energy” and “stoic spirit” of the America First movement.
In her remarks, Malkin sounded similar themes, slamming “Con Inc. and their funders” and telling people, “Unless you’re praying to God, you better get off your knees.” She called out CPAC’s “audacity” for choosing “America Uncanceled” as this year’s theme, saying that CPAC had cancelled half the people in the room.
“Red Elephants” podcaster Vincent James and Blaze TV’s Jon Miller also spoke. James focused heavily on Republicans he said betrayed Trump and have repeatedly stabbed right-wing voters in the back. He called for a “true right-wing opposing force” and said Republicans have to assert “sovereignty” over states and counties they control, adding, “We cannot be afraid of the idea of secession.”
Fuentes has a history of making anti-Semitic remarks, as do followers of his white nationalist America First movement. At some point during Gosar’s remarks, clearly visible on the livestream was a Star of David that someone in the audience was apparently projecting onto the side of the lectern.