U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Tuesday defended her comments comparing mask mandates to the Holocaust as criticisms about the comments mounted even among fellow Republicans.
In an interview with the Daily Citizen-News in her home district in Dalton, Georgia, Greene — who will hold a rally in Dalton Thursday — said, "What I did talk about was vaccine passports, and I talked about how people are being treated like second-class citizens over vaccines.
"For example, the University of Virginia is now saying to their students that they cannot come on campus for in-person classes if they do not show vaccine records, which is completely contrary to civil rights. It is also unbelievable that people are going to be treated like second-class citizens simply because they trust their own immune systems. That's all I've ever talked about."
In an interview on the Real America Voice's network show "The Water Cooler with David Brody," Greene said of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who has implemented a mask mandate for the House floor, "This woman is mentally ill. You know, we can look back in a time and history where people were told to wear a gold star. And they were definitely treated like second-class citizens, so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany. This is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about."
Jewish leaders and organizations were quick to criticize Greene. In remarks on Sunday to Arizona 12 News, Greene said, "I said nothing wrong. And I think any rational Jewish person didn't like what happened in Nazi Germany, and any rational Jewish person doesn't like what's happening with overbearing mask mandates and overbearing vaccine policies."
Back in her district, Dalton attorney Rob Cowan, who is Jewish, said Greene's comments "trivialize and minimize the horrors of the Holocaust."
"They seem to come from an ill-informed and uneducated position," he said. "That's reflected in other elected leaders having distanced themselves from and denouncing what she has said."
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said in a statement Tuesday that "Marjorie is wrong, and her intentional decision to compare the horrors of the Holocaust with wearing masks is appalling. The fact that this needs to be stated today is deeply troubling."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the comments one of her "frequent outbursts that are absolutely outrageous and reprehensible."
And U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, the No. 3 House GOP leader, said "equating mask wearing and vaccines to the Holocaust" minimized "the most significant human atrocities ever committed."
Greene said in the interview with the Daily Citizen-News that neither McCarthy nor McConnell spoke to her before condemning her remarks.
On Tuesday, Greene tweeted out a news story about a grocery store chain that plans to allow vaccinated employees to go maskless. Those who do would have a logo on their nametags indicating they had been vaccinated.
"Vaccinated employees get a vaccination logo just like the Nazi's forced Jewish people to wear a gold star," Greene tweeted.
Greene and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., will bring their America First tour to Dalton Thursday.
The Associated Press has reported federal prosecutors are examining whether Gaetz paid underage girls and escorts, offered them gifts in exchange for sex, along with additional allegations. Gaetz has denied wrongdoing.
Greene said in Daily Citizen-News interview she has looked into the accusations against Gaetz.
"If people do their homework, they'll find this is the typical attacks that the left-leaning media strike to strong conservative Republicans, and that is what they are doing to Matt," she said. "These are all allegations that the media have put out there, and none of them have been proven to be true."
The tour has already had stops in Florida and Arizona. Asked why she is partnering with Gaetz in these rallies, Greene pointed to their shared conservative values.
"We both believe in America First policies," she said. "We believe the future for our country is to defend our Constitution and freedoms. We've seen these policies work over the past four years with President Trump. We believe this is the way forward for our future as opposed to the Democrats' socialist agenda."
Greene said she scheduled a stop in Dalton rather than Atlanta or some of the larger cities in Georgia because it is in her district.
Dalton resident Helen Graham said she voted for Greene and hopes to be able to attend the event.
"She's been here two or three times already this year, but I've had something else already scheduled each time," Grahan said. "I like her. I like the fact she fights for what she believes in."
She said, however, she wasn't quite sure why Gaetz will be appearing.
"This isn't his district. He isn't even from Georgia," she said.
Dalton resident Shelley Woods said she voted for Greene but said she doesn't plan to attend the event.
"From what I understand, this is just going to be a political rally, not a forum, and I'm just not big on rallies and things like that," she said.
Whitfield County Democratic Committee Chairman Debby Peppers said Greene and Gaetz aren't reaching out to independents and moderates with these rallies.
"They are just looking for support within their ranks," Peppers said. "They are coming to Dalton because it did vote for Marjorie Taylor Greene. It is an ultraconservative area."
Greene received 75% of the vote in the November general election. She was basically unopposed as Democrat Kevin Van Ausdal withdrew from the race too late for the party to replace him. His name remained on the ballot.
Daily Citizen-News staff writer Charles Oliver and The Associated Press contributed to this report.