Gaetz speech at Women for America First event

In his first public speaking engagement since the New York Times broke the story that the federal government was investigating him for sex trafficking, Congressman Matt Gaetz pledged not to stop fighting and honored the women in his congressional office and his mother.

On Thursday, April 8, Gaetz female staff issued a public statement in support of their boss.

The Speech

I love you with all my heart, and I can assure you the best is indeed yet to come. Keep fighting. After the Russia hoax, the knockoff Ukraine impeachment sequel, an election that was stolen as a consequence of the illegal last-minute changes to the rules, folks have sort of gotten to know that I’ll take on the establishment of both parties, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We have your back. That is the sentiment I’ve heard from thousands of Americans at restaurants, walking through public parks, sometimes just out on the street, in emails, online donations. And I can’t tell you how much it means to me. This past week has been full of encouragement from President Trump, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Jim Jordan to the MAGA nation the shares so much love. So let me assure you, I have not yet begun to fight for the country I love and for the nation that I know benefits from America First principles.

I’m built for the battle, and I’m not going anywhere.

I’m built for the battle, and I’m not going anywhere. The smears against me range from distortions of my personal life to wild, and I mean wild conspiracy theories. I won’t be intimidated by a lying media, and I won’t be extorted by a former DOJ officials and the crooks he is working with. The truth will prevail.

I hail from Northwest Florida, a land of heroes. I represent the district that’s got the highest concentration of active-duty military in the country. Military families are not just a feature of my community; they are the defining characteristic. Serving them, fighting against the endless wars that ravaged their lives and families, it weighs on me as the most serious and somber obligation of my service. It inspires me to be at my best so they can be at their best, but heroism does not just erupt on the battlefield. Inspiration is often drawn from those closest to us when regular folks do spectacular things. This is a Women for America First event, and it seems like the perfect place to celebrate the excellence of some of America’s first women. So I want to take this opportunity to tell you about some of my heroes.

I cannot support the left-wing agenda. They just hate President Trump, and he’s doing a good job. Would there be a spot for me on your team – Isabella

Isabella is an immigrant to our country. She was born in Brazil, and she ended up in Washington DC because, if she was to have the American experience, she wanted it to be in the capital city. She loves the monuments and the architecture and what those things say about the ambition and vision of a great nation. What do people do when they need jobs in Washington, DC? Well, they go to Capitol Hill. Isabella applied for any job that was available, and she ended up working for Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. After that, she ended up working for a Democrat impeachment manager who let blood lust for Trump cloud common sense and the facts. One evening as my staff and I were working late, she showed up at our door, “I’m tired of being on the America last team,” she said. “I cannot support the left-wing agenda. They just hate President Trump, and he’s doing a good job. Would there be a spot for me on your team?”

I was somewhat surprised that a Democrat staffer would reach out to our office for employment over more moderate or more establishment figures. “I’ve watched you work. You take chances on people,” Isabella said to me. We were criticized by some in the right-wing media for the hire. Some even said she was a spy sent to bring me down. Today, Isabella is a member of my senior staff, and we work closely together on a daily basis. She had the courage to jeopardize her career just by talking to me. And now my constituents, the people of Florida, the people of this great country are better off as a consequence of her resolve and her brilliance. Democrat staff might be an unusual place to find greatness, but sometimes we can uncover motivation in unusual places.

Let me tell you about Dawn. Dawn has never worked before in politics or government. She was a legal clerk and a hospice care coordinator and a very tough mother. Some rich people in my district and the business community said I was insane to hire Dawn to be my district director, the most forward-facing job in my office. I figured someone who could manage the logistics of litigation and also provide comfort and care to dying people was precisely the type of person that I would want fighting for the folks back home. The downtown crowd said I should consider a better-known leader with political connections. All of the recommendations they sent me were predictably men. I take the words of Margaret Thatcher to heart: “If you want something said, get a man. If you want something done, hire a woman.”

Dawn has recovered millions of dollars for people in my district who were unfairly treated by government. She helped veterans restore their benefits that they had earned. She even one time helped me rescue school children that were stuck in Costa Rica and had lost their passports. Mama Dawn, we all call her, and all she needed was a chance to lead a great team, a chance that too many women are passed up for. She is the grit and soul of our operation.

Alison was living a very comfortable life not far from here in Naples, Florida. She had already thrived as a business executive and a key member of leadership teams. She didn’t need work or Washington, but she had an anxiousness, a desire to be in the fight. She saw the good that President Trump and our team were doing, and she wanted to be in the arena. Alison left me five voicemails before I even returned her call. Besides, a 40-year-old intern is the plot of a Vince Vaughn movie. It is not a career trajectory for most people. “I’ll come answer the phones for free,” Alison said. She took an unpaid internship and then a paid internship and then the lowest salaried position in my office, and she earned her promotions with her hard work. She is now my director of operations and a member of my senior staff. She had zero Capitol Hill experience, but she earned her way every step of the way.

There are so many powerful forces in Washington that fight against the America first agenda, and I find them in both parties. They want trade deals that screw over American workers for the bottom line of some business or some corporate profit or vesting opportunity on Wall Street. They want illegal immigration to drive down American wages, and they want bloody Wars to last forever. It takes people like Alison, who battled not for the money or self-actualization but for love of country, to win. And we will win. We must win, for there is no place to turn. There is no distant lands to convert to our purposes should America fail. That’s the sound of freedom right there in my district. That’d be like a fighter jet going over.

Jillian is a military spouse. I mentioned before I have a special spot in my heart for military families. Her husband had been overseas in combat and his return to civilian life required her to spend her days in California. She had paused her career to support her husband’s, but she was itching to get back in the game. And for good reason, she is the very best at what she does. So we tried something crazy, unheard of in 2018, something called remote work, where someone could actually be in a different place within the office and contribute their effort, contribute their talent and make the operation better.

But before hiring Jillian to be my communications director, I had been on television once in my first 10 months in office. Since hiring her, I’ve been on more than the MyPillow guy. And that says a lot more about her than it does me. She never wanted to be a chief of staff; communications was her expertise, but I saw in her this tremendous potential to listen and lead and motivate and inspire, and she is the hardest working person I know, leading by example. I may be biased, but I think she’s the best chief of staff on the Hill.

I share with you these remarkable stories about amazing women, because I am so proud of them. And because I admire them so much, you may have seen a recent HBO documentary called The Swamp, which chronicled my time in the Congress. And there’s a scene they filmed, but did not include in the movie. The director asked me, “How is it that your professional and political world is run, managed, led by so many women, almost exclusively females?” I told him, “It’s just how I was raised. My mother is the hero of my life.”

When I was three years old, I learned that a blood vessel had burst in my mother’s spinal column and that she would never walk again, being a pugnacious three-year-old as my folks say I was, I walked into her hotel room and said, “Mom, I know you can’t walk, but can you run?”

And every day since then, my mother has been running. She’s built businesses, led scouting organizations. She contributes her time and her talents and her treasure to nonprofits that help abused and neglected animals. Nothing has slowed her down. I have seen determination and drive in my mother that I have never seen in any man. I don’t know that it would even be possible to see that in any man. I do know that there is something special, tangible, and powerful in what women have, and I’ve known it all my life.

There is a sentiment among some women in the workforce that men are hired and promoted based on potential, but women are hired and promoted based on what they’ve done. My service in the Congress is more meaningful, more impactful, more noteworthy because I have seen the potential unlocked with so many brilliant, patriotic women that I’ve had the chance to work with. For us to truly make America great again, we will need all that all of us have to offer, men and women, gay and straight, rural, urban, suburban, Black, White, Brown, everybody.

America First is not a quiet movement, and I am not a quiet man.

When he accepted the 1988 nominee Republican nomination for President, George Herbert Walker Bush said, “I’m a quiet man, and I hear the quiet people of our country.” Well, America First is not a quiet movement, and I am not a quiet man. I may be a canceled man in some corners. I may even be a wanted man by the deep state, but I hear the millions of Americans who feel forgotten, canceled, ignored, marginalized, and targeted. I draw confidence knowing that the silent majority is growing louder by the day in this great country.

And so I welcome to our movement the libertarians, the populists, the different, the canceled, anyone who can rally around our inclusive America first agenda, because it is going to take all of us, one great big team, forgiving each other our foibles and flaws to make America the best version of herself. Besides, what is in the mind and in the heart is never lost. And this is the message to America first conservatives today. We’ve tasted victory. We’ve renegotiated 400 miles of wall, changed asylum laws, had drawdowns from wars and created peace and acceptance with a land that has been connected to our faith for 4,000 years. The economy soared, wages rose and America was her glorious best until Marxists attacked our streets. The Chinese Corona virus attacked our bodies and fraud attacked the election process itself.

They couldn’t beat Trump at the ballot box in 2016, so they’ve tried impeachment and the witness box. That failed, too, so they ran to the mailbox with millions of ballots swirling around without any true, verifiable connection to actual voters. I’m glad States like Georgia are embracing reforms to uphold election integrity. No election in this country should be stolen, but they can never steal what America felt like under Donald Trump, the energy, the optimism. Trump did his job. He led us to taste the experience of American greatness, and now it’s our job to keep up the craving and earn a great bounty again.

I know this, firebrands don’t retreat, especially when the battle for the soul of our country calls. Big government, big tech, big business, big media, they’d all breathe a sigh of relief if I were no longer in the Congress fighting for you. I am the only Republican in Congress who doesn’t take any money from federal lobbyists or political action committees. Their money is no good with me, and that scares them. And you know what? It should.

They’re coming for you. I’m just in the way.

They lie about me because I tell the truth about them, and I’m not going to stop. So when you see the leaks and the lies and the falsehoods and the smears, when you see the anonymous sources and insiders forecasting my demise, know this, they aren’t really coming for me. They’re coming for you. I’m just in the way.

God bless America. God bless our country. God bless this great movement. Let’s hold our heads high, work together, believe in each other, and let’s go get them. Thank you.