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Aug. 15—MARIETTA — Republicans gathered at Roswell Street Baptist Church Saturday morning for a different kind of sermon: a fiery speech from first-term U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia.
Officially just another monthly breakfast hosted by the Cobb GOP, the event was moved from the party's headquarters to a larger venue to accommodate the crowd, which was almost 300 strong before the program began at 8:30 a.m.
She did not disappoint.
Ending her speech to standing applause, Greene repeated many of the talking points that have earned her hatred on the left and the occasional reprimand from Republican leadership.
"She has a lot of great ideas and a lot of energy that the party needs right now, to listen to and respect," said Cobb resident David Gault. "And I think that she deserves more respect given to her ... than what she's getting from the Republican Party."
Since she was elected in November to represent Georgia's 14th Congressional District, which covers the state's northwestern corner, Greene has become "a potent force in what you might call the 'activist right' of the Republican Party," Kerwin Swint, a political scientist and professor at Kennesaw State University, said.
"She has become a very effective fundraiser, she has become a very effective force on social media for a large part of the activist right," Swint added. "She's polarizing, in that Democrats love to hate her, and that makes a lot of conservative Republicans even more attracted to her."
Saturday morning, Greene called the coronavirus a "bioweapon"; said the Senate's bipartisan approval of an infrastructure bill this week — supported by 19 Republicans and all 50 Democrats — would "enslave us to Chinese batteries"; repeated her claim that the November presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump; and, speaking of Democrats, said "they are liars, they are thieves, they are communists."
Her rhetorical bombast has engendered controversy, even within the Republican Party.
"Somebody who's suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK Jr.'s airplane is not living in reality," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in February, The Hill reported.
Several days later, every Democrat and 11 Republicans in the House voted to strip Greene of her committee assignments.
"She is a media star. She is an activist star, but it doesn't make her an effective legislator necessarily," Swint said. "It doesn't make her a force on the floor of the House of Representatives. ... Her effectiveness is more on the communication side, the media side."
Greene addressed Saturday the suggestion she had been rendered ineffective when she was removed from her committee assignments.
Her ability to influence and pass legislation had been diminished, she acknowledged. But she found another way to wield influence.
Greene said she was shocked to learn that many votes in the House are voice votes, in which representatives opposed to a bill or resolution say "no" and supporters, "yea." The presiding officer then decides which side appeared to have more support. With such votes, there is no record of how any individual representative voted.
Greene said she has taken to using a procedural tool available to representatives: she asks for a recorded vote. According to the Congressional Research Service, recorded votes "identify how each member voted and are taken by electronic device." Once requested, they require the support of one-fifth of a quorum, or 44 members, to proceed.
"I don't care if you're a Republican or a Democrat, I believe that every single person in the entire United States of America deserves to know how their representative votes for them," she said. "I've put Congress on record since February, and they hate me for it."
Swint said requesting a recorded vote "enforces accountability," because representatives "can't hide behind a voice vote."
That tactic was cited by attendees who spoke to the MDJ after her speech.
"The fact that she's doing that, I think is incredibly important," said Cobb resident Bill Marchionni. "I came to this wondering about her value. How are you delivering value? And she talked about getting them on record, and that's tremendous value."
Asked about her incendiary language, attendees said they didn't mind.
A couple at the event who had lived in Ecuador said America would go the way of neighboring countries like Venezuela and Cuba under Democratic governance.
"We've got to stop with (political correctness) and call things by their name," said the husband, who declined to be named, citing fear his conservative views would cost him his job. "Saying that they're communists isn't strong language, it's a fact."
"We've been name called for decades, and we haven't fought back," Marchionni said. "And so now we're fighting back, and if that means that she has to call someone — has to be pretty strong in her words ... it's a little bit of, they're getting a little bit of a taste of their own medicine."
Others said they believed Greene when she said she would fight for them, that she wouldn't campaign as a conservative and govern as a moderate or strive for bipartisan compromise should Republicans retake the House next year.
"Non-traditional politicians, that's what people in that room want today," said a friend of Marchionni's, who also declined to share his name. "The Mitt Romneys of the world, what we've been having the past 30 to 50 years, you see what it's gotten us."