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Marjorie Taylor Greene downplays speaking at a conference founded by white nationalist

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Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia on Sunday downplayed her attendance and speaking slot at a fringe right-wing conference with ties to white nationalists earlier this weekend. She first told CBS News that she didn't know who the organizers of the event were and their views.

Greene, who was in Orlando, Florida, to attend and speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), was also a surprise guest miles away at the America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC). That event was organized by Nick Fuentes, a white nationalist who  started the event in 2020. Fuentes attended the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville in 2017.

 Congressman Paul Gosar of Arizona spoke at the same event in 2021 and sent in a pre-record 30-second clip to AFPAC this year. Former Congressman Steve King of Iowa, who was taken off the U.S. House committees for racist remarks, also spoke at this year's conference. Idaho Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin also attended.

Video of the conference on Saturday showed Fuentes and attendees cheering for Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as approving of comparisons between Putin and Adolf Hitler. Fuentes also called the attack on the U.S.  Captiol  on January 6 "awesome."

American Conservative Union Holds Annual CPAC Conference In Orlando
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is escorted through a throng of media as she attends the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at The Rosen Shingle Creek on February 26, 2022 in Orlando, Florida.  Joe Raedle / Getty Images

In her remarks at AFPAC, she said she was "tragically heartbroken" to be a member of this Congress and that "everything this Congress does—is evil."

Greene's attendance received criticism from a range of Republicans, including Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

"I don't know them, but I'm reminded of that old line from the 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' movie where - where one character says, 'Morons, I've got morons on my team.' And I have to think anybody that would sit down with White nationalists and speak at their conference was certainly missing a few IQ points," Romney told CNN on Sunday.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a response that "white  supremacy, neo-Nazism, hate speech and bigotry are disgusting and do not have a home in the Republican Party."

In a response on Sunday, Greene criticized "identity politics" and said outcry to her remarks is an attempt to "cancel" her and said she wouldn't do it to other Republicans "even if I find some of their statements tasteless, misguided or even repulsive at times."

"It doesn't matter if I'm speaking to Democrat union members or 1,200 young conservatives who feel cast aside and marginalized by society," Greene said in a statement. "The Pharisees in the Republican Party may attack me for being willing to break barriers and speak to a lost generation of young people who are desperate for love and leadership."

On Saturday at CPAC, Greene told CBS News she did not know about Fuentes' or the group's views. After being told they were a white nationalist group, she said she did not endorse those views.

"It wasn't an alignment. It was to talk about getting everyone together to save our country," she said.

The Republican Jewish Coalition quickly denounced Greene's attendance on Saturday and called her and Gosar's attendance "appalling and outrageous." Senator Rick Scott of Florida, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, criticized "racial politics" but added he "completely disagrees" with Greene's attendance.

"We were all born in this world in the image of god, and we all ought to have the same opportunities," he told CBS News at CPAC on Saturday. Scott has called for the elimination of asking for someone's race or ethnicity on any government form.

Other Republican members of Congress at CPAC either ignored questions about Greene, or said they hadn't heard of it.

While listing out allies in Congress during his remarks at CPAC on Saturday, former President Donald Trump also introduced Greene.

"A person who is very shy, does not like speaking her mind. But she does it anyway, Marjorie Taylor Greene," he said, to cheers in the crowd.

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