Her recent fire comments followed her home in Georgia’s 14th congressional district in the northwest corner of the state, and the publicity was not welcome. “Greene Defends Controversial Holocaust Commentaries” read the headline on the front page of a newspaper box outside Oakwood Café in Dalton.
Greene’s political security in the district – where 75% of voters backed former President Donald Trump last November – does not mean that all of their voters enjoy their role as GOP flamethrowers or that they approve of the latest anti-Semitic comments which she used to collect her followers.
In interviews with nearly two dozen district voters this week, some Republicans who voted for the new congressman expressed dismay at her reckless comments comparing the masking requirement of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the House of Representatives to actions, with whom Nazi leaders met Jews during the Holocaust. Some questioned the motives behind Greene’s attention-grabbing maneuvers, saying they were open to sponsoring another Republican for their seat – though no formidable challenger has emerged yet.
At Oakwood Cafe that morning, 78-year-old Phil Neff, who supported Trump, paid his breakfast amid the morning hustle and bustle. He then told CNN that he believes Greene “has more interest in himself than serving the community,” but added resignedly, “That’s what the people voted for.”
“I don’t think she’s helping herself. But from a political point of view, I think her organization is growing. There is a lot of money flowing in from the national market, and that’s why she can be so strong that no one can defeat her.” said Neff, who supported another candidate in the GOP primary last year. He declined to say if he voted for Greene last November, saying he would “consider who the opposition is” before voting them for re-election.
Strong support for Trump in Greene’s district but fear of her rising profile
When you drive into Dalton’s historic downtown, about 30 miles southeast of Chattanooga, Tennessee, a large sign declares it the “Carpet Capital of the World.” According to the city’s visitor bureau, Dalton and the surrounding area produce 90% of the world’s carpeting, and the industry employs more than 30,000 people in Whitfield County alone. But downtown looks like most of the rest of America’s High Street: there are cafes and flower shops, restaurants and taverns, pawn shops, clothing and home accessories boutiques, and auto repair shops.
“I’m more concerned about the bad publicity Dalton, Georgia is getting,” Neff said when asked about Greene’s growing national profile. “Dalton, Georgia is known the world over for developing the rug. This is how most people know him. But now it’s made known by the idea that everyone in Dalton was a supporter of Marjorie Greene – and they weren’t. “
Brandyn Parker is a 37-year-old Republican leather worker in a downtown store. Parker stood outside the store with a possum on a leash Thursday and said she was also concerned about how Greene’s comments are shaping perceptions of the GOP and the 14th district. Parker voted for Trump in 2016 but skipped the 2020 election because she felt she didn’t have a good choice at the top of the ticket.
“I feel like the things she thinks and says – and, of course, the larger following she has – makes people think that is how everyone in the Republican Party feels and thinks when it is wrong,” said Parker . She added that she did not understand Greene’s invocation of Nazi Germany. “Wearing a mask is nothing compared to the Holocaust.”
Wayne White, a retired Conservative who voted for Greene in November despite unsupporting her during the GOP primaries, said the Georgia Congressmen’s comments were “just not appropriate.”
“I don’t think anyone should compare anything for the Nazis and the Holocaust. They are different worlds,” White said during an interview in Rome, Georgia, hours before Greene’s rally. “It has been ineffective, and it will continue to be ineffective as long as it is as controversial as it is. It has no support from other Republicans.”
Greene’s controversies create problems for the GOP at the national and Georgian levels
In the few months she has been in Congress, Greene has given her party a major headache, not only from her inflammatory criticism of the Democrats but also from undermining the Republican leaders in the GOP conference.
Republican strategists at the national and Georgian levels worry about how her spontaneous remarks, as well as the attention she has to violence and conspiracy theories, constantly send messages to other GOP politicians as they are forced to answer for their marginal theories and opinions.
During her rally with Gaetz on Thursday, she went a step further by comparing the Democratic Party to Nazis during a tangent on the Biden government’s economic aid policy.
Greene has been one of the toughest defenders of Trump’s lies that he won the 2020 elections – and her presence at Gaetz in Dalton should show her support for the ongoing challenges to Georgia’s results, even though there is no widespread evidence of electoral fraud.
Voters praise Greene for speaking bluntly
But just as Republican voters often apologized for Trump’s outlandish remarks as evidence of his authenticity, some voters in this conservative Georgia neighborhood praise Greene for her openness.
Robin Deal, who works in Human Resources and was a supporter of Greene 2020, hinted that what Congressmen were saying was misunderstood.
“I don’t necessarily agree with that statement,” Deal said in an interview in Rome with CNN’s Martin Savidge when asked about Greene’s comparisons between the mask requirement and the Holocaust. “But I agree with your right to say.”
“I believe that, as I said, she is a representative of the people, she speaks as a normal person, not as a politician,” said Deal.
Josalyn Shults, a 41-year-old nurse who voted for Greene and Trump in 2020, said no one should make comparisons with Nazi Germany, but argued that Greene made a legitimate point regarding the mask requirement.
“It feels like people are being robbed of some of the rights they’re used to,” Shults said.
Sandra Campbell, another Georgia voter, said she believed Greene and Trump were representatives of the “real America.”
“I’m a patriot. I love America. The people fought for this country, bled and died. It is time for the people to return to the real America,” said Campbell. “And Marjorie Taylor Greene, people think she’s open, but she stands for what’s right.”
When asked what Greene stood for, Campbell said, “God and land. And that’s what we want for our children, our grandchildren.”
And when asked about Greene’s recent comments comparing mask mandates to the Holocaust, Campbell replied, “Well, you know what, we’re all imperfect, aren’t we?”
Campbell noted, however, that she did not know exactly what Greene was saying about the Holocaust, but said the comparison might apply to Covid-19 restrictions and vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use were.
Rome voter Steve Karakos, who is half-retired but worked as a building contractor, was one of many Republicans who raised concerns about some of Greene’s remarks – but said he would likely continue to support them.
The Georgia congressman was “very outspoken as a pit bull”.
“I think that’s what we need on the Republican side,” he said.
He’s uncomfortable with some of Greene’s comments, but that probably won’t affect his voice.
“I would probably choose her again,” said Karakos. “Because those who make the most noise are only just being heard.”
CNN’s Martin Savidge and Donie O’Sullivan contributed to this report.
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