NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. ― White nationalist leader Richard Spencer was kicked out of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday.
A spokesman for CPAC said that the unabashedly racist “alt-right” leader was removed because organizers viewed him as “repugnant,” according to NBC News.
Security personnel approached Spencer after he spoke to reporters for approximately an hour in the halls of the National Gaylord Resort, the site of this year’s gathering of conservative activists and elected officials.
Officials asked for his credentials and then escorted him outside the building, where he held another mini-press conference.
Shortly before Spencer was escorted away, the American Conservative Union’s Dan Schneider denounced him and members of his movement. In a speech titled “The Alt Right Ain’t Right At All,” Schneider said Spencer and his colleagues were part of a “sinister organization” that is trying to “worm its way” into the conservative movement.
“They are racists. They are sexists. They hate the Constitution. They hate everything we believe in. They are not an extension of conservatism,” Schneider said.
Schneider then made a puzzling argument: The alt-right and its band of Nazi sympathizers were actually a product of the left.
“They are nothing but garden variety left-wing fascists,” he said.
Spencer was later dismissive of such criticism, calling Schneider’s speech “pathetic” and claiming that his movement was more popular among conservatives than CPAC organizers were willing to admit.
“Tons of people here, in terms of young people, love the alt-right,” Spencer said. “They know who I am. They love my stuff. We’re reaching them no matter what CPAC leadership wants to do.”
Spencer and his ilk have flourished amidst the rise of President Donald Trump. Their growing influence was evident last week when CPAC announced that, in the interests of free speech, one of the movement’s prominent figures, ultra-right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, would be given a speaking slot at the conference.
CPAC rescinded that invitation, however, after footage emerged online over the weekend that appeared to show Yiannopoulos defending pedophilia. The video cost Yiannopoulos ― who was already known for making racist, misogynistic and transphobic remarks ― both the CPAC speaking slot and later his job as an editor at Breitbart News.
Those pedophilia remarks were too much for Spencer, too.
“I can’t defend Milo at this point,” Spencer told reporters on Thursday.
White nationalists celebrated Trump’s election and were further heartened when he appointed Steve Bannon as his chief strategist. The former head of Breitbart News, a website that traffics in white nationalist sentiment, Bannon appeared at CPAC alongside White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.
Bannon denounced the “corporatist, globalist media” for being “adamantly opposed to an economic nationalist agenda,” which the president is pushing. He warned that the tenuous relationship between the Trump administration and the fourth estate, which he referred to as the “opposition party,” would only get worse.
“Every day there is going to be a fight,” he vowed.
But not everyone was heartened by the white nationalists’ showing at CPAC.
Gunner Ramer, an American University student, said it was “just unbelievable” that someone like Spencer would be welcomed at CPAC. A self-described conservative who supported long-shot Republican candidate Evan McMullin during the presidential election, Gunner decided to make his views known as Spencer took questions from reporters.
“You’re a joke!” he yelled. “You’re a joke, Spencer!”
Speaking to The Huffington Post, Ramer called on the GOP to clean house.
“Republicans should look at themselves in the mirror and actually see what’s going on,” he said. “It’s a shame that he even thinks he can come here and have a platform and get attention at all.”
“Walking by here and seeing Richard Spencer, that’s just insane,” Ramer said. “That is unbelievable.”