Embattled U.S. Rep. George Santos has drawn further negative attention to himself after comparing himself to Rosa Parks in a podcast interview.
The Republican congressman, who’s facing multiple charges including fraud, money laundering, and theft of public funds, has sparked outrage with his comparison to the renowned civil rights activist.
In an interview with the right-wing podcast host Mike Crispi, Santos boldly declared, “Rosa Parks didn’t sit in the back, and neither am I gonna sit in the back.”
Despite a tumultuous political career that has involved a range of controversies, Santos announced his intention to seek re-election in his New York district encompassing parts of Long Island and Queens amid calls for his resignation.
While he has been the center of a criminal investigation and has been exposed for lying about his professional experience, finances and ethnicity and even falsely claiming that his mother was a 9/11 victim, a motion to expel Santos from the House in May failed to gain support from Republicans.
Reacting to Santos’s remarks, Anna Kaplan, a Democratic former state senator who may become his opponent, did not mince words: “George Santos is an absolute disgrace who continues to embarrass New Yorkers,” she wrote in a July 10 in response to the video.
In his conversation with Crispi, a former Republican congressional candidate, Santos addressed critics in his own party.
“They come for me. I go right back for them… So, you know, it’s not gonna stay that way anymore. I’m gonna call them out. You want to call me a liar? I’ll call you a sellout,” he said.
It is unclear when the video podcast aired, but in it, Santos recalled a confrontation he had with U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah at President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address in February.
“The man goes to the State of the Union of the United States wearing the Ukraine lapel pin and tells me, a Latino gay man, that I shouldn’t sit in the front, that I should be in the back. Well, guess what, Rosa Parks didn’t sit in the back and neither am I gonna sit in the back,” Santos told Crispi. “That’s just the reality of our work. Mitt Romney lives in a very different world. And he needs to buckle up because it’s gonna be a bumpy ride for him.”
During the encounter in the aisles of the U.S. Capitol, Romney referred to Santos as a “sick puppy.”
“He shouldn’t have been there,” Romney continued. “Given the fact that he’s under ethics investigation, he should be sitting in the back row and being quiet instead of parading in front of the president,” he said.
Santos’ remarks stirred several reactions in a string of memes from Black Twitter users.
“Why they always using Black people in their perverse ideologies?” wrote one user.
Twitter user Richard Swift implied that the congressman might be intending to make history of one of the most controversial politicians.
“It’s like he made a bet that he could go down in the most flames ever,” Swift wrote.
“Nobody cares where Santos ends up sitting on the bus to Rikers, which is where this will ultimately end up,” wrote another Twitter user in response to the video.