His most recent inflammatory comments followed his home in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District in the state’s northwest corner and the publicity was not welcomed. “Greene stands up for controversial Holocaust comments,” read a front page banner in a newspaper box outside the Oakwood Café in Dalton.
Greene’s political security in the district – where 75% of voters backed former President Donald Trump last November – doesn’t mean all of his voters relish his role as the GOP flamethrower or approve of recent anti-Semitic comments which she used to rally her supporters.
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 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s mask demands. in the House chamber to the actions that Nazi leaders used to target Jews during the Holocaust. Some have questioned the motives behind Greene’s attention-seeking maneuvers and said they were ready to back a different Republican for his seat – although no formidable challenger has yet emerged.
Inside the Oakwood Cafe that morning, Phil Neff, 78, who was supportive of Trump, paid for his breakfast amid the morning commotion. He later told CNN he believed Greene was “more interested in herself than in serving the community,” but added with a note of resignation: “That’s what people have chosen”.
“I don’t think she helps herself. But politically, I think her organization is growing. A lot of money is pouring into it from the domestic market, and so maybe she’s so strong. that no one can beat it, ”said Neff, who backed another candidate for the GOP primary last year. He declined to say whether he voted for Greene last November and said he would “consider who the opposition is” before voting for her for re-election.
Strong support for Trump in Greene District, but apprehension about his growing notoriety
Arriving in historic downtown Dalton, about 30 miles southeast of Chattanooga, Tennessee, a large sign declares it the “Carpet Capital of the World.” According to the city’s visitors’ bureau, Dalton and the surrounding area produce 90% of the world’s carpet and the industry employs more than 30,000 people in Whitfield County alone. But downtown is like most others on America’s Main Street: there are cafes and florists, restaurants and taverns, pawn shops, clothing and home decor stores, and workshops. auto repair.
“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 recognized around the world for carpet development. That’s what most people know about. But now he’s known by the idea that everyone in Dalton was a Marjorie Greene supporter. – and they weren’t. “
Brandyn Parker is a 37-year-old Republican leather worker in a downtown boutique. Standing outside the store on Thursday with a possum on a leash, Parker said she was also concerned about how Greene’s comments were shaping perceptions of the GOP and the 14th Arrondissement. Parker voted for Trump in 2016, but skipped the 2020 election because she didn’t feel like she had good choices at the top of the list.
“I feel like the things that she thinks and says – and of course, the most followers she has – reminds the people that everyone in the Republican Party feels and thinks of. this way when it’s not true, ”Parker said. 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 Tory who voted for Greene in November even though he did not support her in the GOP primary, said the Georgian MP’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 in an interview in Rome, Georgia, hours before Greene’s rally. “It has been ineffective, and will continue to be so as long as it is as controversial as it is. It does not garner support from other Republicans.”
Greene’s controversies create problems for GOP nationally and in Georgia
In the few months she was in Congress, Greene created major headaches for her party, not only by hurling her inflammatory criticisms against Democrats, but also by undermining Republican leaders at the GOP conference.
Republican strategists both nationally and in Georgia are worried about how his impromptu remarks, as well as attention to his embrace of violence and conspiracy theories, continually send other GOP politicians to dodge. a message when they are forced to answer for his marginal theories. and reviews.
In her Thursday rally with Gaetz, she went further by comparing the Democratic Party to the Nazis on a tangent over the Biden administration’s economic aid policies.
Greene has been one of the strongest supporters of Trump’s lies that he won the 2020 election – and his presence with Gaetz in Dalton was meant to show their support for the lingering challenges of Georgia’s results, even though he didn’t There is no widespread evidence of electoral fraud.
Voters praise Greene for speaking straight up
But just as Republican voters have often excused Trump’s extravagant statements as proof of his authenticity, some voters in this conservative Georgia district are praising Greene for his frankness.
Robin Deal, who works in human resources and backed Greene in 2020, suggested the MP’s remarks were 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 mask requirements and the Holocaust. “But I agree with his right to say it.”
“I believe she, like I said, is a representative of the people, she speaks as an ordinary person, not as a politician,” Deal said.
Josalyn Shults, a 41-year-old nurse who voted for Greene and Trump in 2020, said no one should make a comparison with Nazi Germany, but argued that Greene was raising a legitimate point about mask requirements .
“It feels like people are being taken away from some of the rights they are used to,” Shults said.
Sandra Campbell, another voter from Georgia, said she believed Greene and Trump were representative of the “real America.”
“I’m a patriot. I love America. People fought, bled and died for this country. It’s time for people to return to the real America,” Campbell said. “And Marjorie Taylor Greene, people think she’s outspoken, but she stands up for what’s right.”
When asked what Greene stands for, Campbell replied, “God and the Fatherland. And that’s what we want for our children, our grandchildren.
And when asked about Greene’s recent comments comparing mask warrants to the Holocaust, Campbell replied, “Well, you know what, we’re all flawed, aren’t we?”
Campbell noted, however, that she was not sure exactly what Greene said about the Holocaust, but said the comparison could apply to restrictions and Covid-19 vaccines, which have been cleared for use. emergency by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
Rome voter Steve Karakos, who is semi-retired but worked as a construction contractor, was one of many Republicans who expressed doubts about some of Greene’s remarks – but said he would likely continue to support.
The Georgian MP, he said, is “very outspoken as a pit bull”.
“I think that’s what we need on the Republican side,” he said.
He isn’t comfortable with some of Greene’s comments, but it is unlikely to influence his vote.
“I would probably vote for her again,” Karakos said. “Because the ones who make the most noise are the ones who have just been heard right now.”
CNN’s Martin Savidge and Donie O’Sullivan contributed to this report.