WASHINGTON — Conservative commentator Candace Owens roiled U.S. House Democrats Tuesday as she asserted that the party spreads fear of white nationalism and hate crimes to win over minority voters.
But she had the support of Colorado Republican Rep. Ken Buck, who invited her to go out shooting with him back in his home state.
Owens, a firebrand conservative activist who leads a movement encouraging African American to leave the Democratic party, testified at a House hearing on hate crimes and the rise of white nationalism, where she was invited by committee Republicans.
She accused Democrats of playing up the threats posed by white nationalists to boost their electoral chances.
“The hearing today is not about white nationalism or hate crimes. It’s about fear mongering, power and control,” Owens said. “It’s a preview of a Democrat 2020 election strategy, same as the Democrat 2016 election strategy. … The goal here is to scare blacks, Hispanics, gays and Muslims into helping them censor dissenting opinions, ultimately into helping them regain control of our country’s narrative, which they feel like they lost.”
The FBI reported a 17 percent increase in hate crimes in 2017 from the previous year, although that included an increase in the number of law enforcement agencies reporting their data.
House Democrats appeared furious that Owens had been invited. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) accused the GOP of inviting witnesses who “openly associate with purveyors of hate.”
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) showed a short video clip of Owens discussing Adolf Hitler, in which she said, “If Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, okay fine. The problem was that he had dreams outside Germany.”
Owens lashed out at Lieu, saying he hadn’t shown the full clip, and saying she was defending nationalism, not Hitler. “I think it’s pretty apparent that Mr. Lieu believes that black people are stupid and will not pursue the full clip in its entirety,” she said.
Buck, who was a longtime Weld County district attorney and is now the new chair of Colorado’s GOP party, was among the Republicans who defended Owens during the testy hearing.
“I think you’ve caused my friends on the left to go to their safe spaces,” said the 4th District Colorado Republican.
He asked Owens whether her pro-life stance triggers people.
Owens replied, “It makes them very upset and Democrats hate me.”
When Owens told Buck that she didn’t own a gun, he replied, “Next time you come to Colorado, we’ll take you shooting.”
Owens bristled at the suggestion that she openly associates with purveyors of hate.
“Purveyors of hate by his definition is anybody that supports the president. I support the president because he’s done a tremendous job in helping the black community,” she said. “In every room that I’ve been with the president, he talks about real issues and he doesn’t pander to us.”
Owens is an influential conservative who has 1.2 million Twitter followers and whose YouTube channel has more than 280,000 subscribers.
She was mentioned as an inspiration in the manifesto of a white nationalist who went on a terrorist rampage at two Christchurch, New Zealand, mosques last month, the Los Angeles Times reported.
She called the shootings a tragedy and said in a statement that “any insinuation that black conservatism in the United States has somehow inspired radical Islamophobic white supremacy terror overseas is pointedly absurd.”