President Donald Trump has a penchant for calling out the names of key supporters at his campaign events, and a Friday rally in Ocala, Florida was no different — but he badly botched the name of one of his most vocal fans in Congress, mixing up Rep. Matt Gaetz’s name with that of Rick Gates, a former Trump aide who pled guilty to crimes related to Russian interference in the 2016 election and pro-Putin efforts in Ukraine.
The Florida congressman has been a strong supporter of the president since the 2016 GOP primary. Gaetz’s Twitter profile even includes a Trump quote about him: “He’s a machine…handsome and going places.”
Gates, on the other hand, was nowhere near Ocala on Friday. Trump’s former campaign deputy is one of at least six convicted felons associated with the 2016 Trump campaign, having pled guilty for crimes related to assisting former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort with his financial crimes. Gates was sentenced to 45 days in jail, 3 years of probation, a $20,000 fine, and 300 hours of community service, a reduced sentence due to his testimony against Manafort and cooperation with the Mueller investigation. Due to the pandemic, Gates’ prison sentence has been temporarily suspended by court order.
At Friday’s rally, Trump again criticized Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who was the target of an attempted scheme to kidnap and murder her. Whitmer has been outspoken about Trump fanning the flames of extremists groups, blaming him for helping radicalize people like the militia who were targeting her.
“And then she said it was my fault,” said Trump, about Whitmer. “It was my people that caught them. It was Trump’s fault. It’s always Trump’s fault.”
“Can it ever be, like, Rick Gates’ fault?” Trump continued, as he pointed to Gaetz, who was near the stage to Trump’s left. “I mean, eh? It’s always Trump’s fault, Rick.”
Trump looked over at Gaetz again and asked how Gov. Ron DeSantis, who had spoken at the rally earlier, had done, as the crowd cheered. “Good governor, good guy too. Good guy too, right over here,” he said, again pointing at Gaetz.
The president then launched into a short riff ranting about “shameless, wealthy, liberal hypocrites in Washington, D.C. and Silicon Valley,” saying that he didn’t “want their money” and didn’t call them and didn’t want to help them, again addressing Gaetz — but still referring to him as “Rick.”
“We are going to win,” said Trump, “that’s why they raise money. I could raise much more money. Every call I make. Every single guy, even though they hated me, they’d all contribute. But Rick, you understand it, I don’t want to make those calls.”
People in the crowd started shouting “Matt” and “Matt Gaetz,” trying to get Trump to say the right name.
Trump continued, still saying the wrong name a few more times as the crowd kept trying. “I don’t want to make those calls, right? Huh? Yeah, I know. Where is Rick? He’s here. Where is Rick? Where is Rick?”
It’s possible that some of the times Trump said “Rick” he was referring to Florida’s junior senator, former Gov. Rick Scott, but he did say “Rick Gates” at first and had pointed over in Gaetz’s direction a few times while saying “Rick.”
Someone in the crowd in front of Trump who was apparently actually named Rick caught the president’s attention, and he pointed to him and said, “Oh, you’re there. Good.”
Finally, the president got the right moniker for the congressman. “So, I just want to thank everybody, and we do have some special people. Uhh, Matt, stand up. Come here, I just want to tell something. This guy, Matt Gaetz. So, Matt’s been another one of our stars.”
His favorite president botching his hame didn’t dampen Gaetz’s enthusiasm, and he quickly stood up at Trump’s introduction and waved to the crowd.
“How are we doing in Florida, Matt? Huh?” Trump asked. Gaetz grinned and held up his arms as the crowd cheered.
Watch the video above, via Fox News.
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