Trump congratulates fringe QAnon supporter who defeated his chosen candidate

Lauren Boebert's restaurant, where staff open-carry, was served with a cease-and-desist for opening amid COVID-19

Published July 1, 2020 8:06PM (EDT)

Lauren Boebert | Qanon (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Lauren Boebert | Qanon (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday tweeted his admiration for a right-wing fringe candidate who defeated the five-term incumbent who he had endorsed in a Colorado primary election.

"Congratulations on a really great win!" Trump wrote in the tweet, applauding Lauren Boebert, the 33-year-old Republican candidate who supports the QAnon conspiracy theory and handed a decisive loss to long-serving Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo.

The day before, the president had tweeted: "Congressman @ScottRTipton is a great supporter of the #MAGA Agenda! He fights for your #2A rights and the Border Wall. Scott is working hard for Colorado and has my Complete and Total Endorsement! #CO03."

It is notable that Boebert, a vocal gun-rights activist, attacked former Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke in the tweet quoted by Trump.

Boebert first drew national attention for challenging O'Rourke in person at a Sept. 2019 town hall in Aurora, Colo. — the site of one of the decade's worst mass shootings — where O'Rourke told attendants that "hell yes" he would confiscate military-style semi-automatic rifles.

"I am here to say, 'Hell, no, you're not,'" Boebart told him, drawing boos.

To confront O'Rourke, Boebart drove three hours from Rifle, Colo., where she and her husband co-own a barbecue restaurant called Shooters Grill that requires wait staff to wear a holstered, loaded sidearm (though for years did not require training).

While Boebart told the Denver Post that she and her husband had not opened the restaurant to make a political statement, her campaign website now boasts that the staff "proudly open carry as they serve their customers."

Boebert also used her tourist-bait restaurant to make a political statement this spring, when she defied Democratic Gov. Jared Polis' lockdown orders to stop the coronavirus pandemic. County officials had to serve Boebart a cease-and-desist.

Perhaps most unusually, Boebert has spoken admirably of the QAnon conspiracy theory, which posits an incoherent fantasy of a "deep state" plot to take down the president and his supporters.

In an interview with the pro-Q webcast "Steel Truth" this May, Boebert said she was "very familiar" with the conspiracy theory while trying to maintain an acceptable distance.

"So, that's more my mom's thing. She's a little fringe. I try to uh — I just try to keep things on track and positive," she said. "I am very familiar with it, though."

"Everything I heard of Q, I hope that this is real, because it only means America is getting stronger and better," she continued. "And people are returning to conservative values, and that's what I am for."

She added that QAnon followers were "only motivating and encouraging and bringing people together stronger, and if this is real, then it could be really great for our country."

Among the false conspiracy theories which QAnon followers believe to be true is that the Russia investigation provided cover for former special counsel Robert Mueller to work together with Trump to bring to justice thousands of alleged pedophiles, including Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, who are also cannibals and will soon be under arrest. Also, every president before Trump allegedly conspired with underground pedophile rings, the "deep state" and pharmaceutical corporations to enslave Americans.

Boebert is not the first Republican candidate to flirt with QAnon, but in doing so she still has not gone quite so far as GOP candidates Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Oregon Senate nominee Jo Rae Perkins, both of whom professed their outright support.

An FBI memo warned last August that the peripheral right-wing movement posed a domestic terrorist threat. Despite the alarm from his own law enforcement, Trump himself has appeared to nod at QAnon supporters in campaign ads and dozens of tweets.

Boebert's website says she "believes in personal freedom, citizen rights and upholding the Constitution of the United States." 

In November, she will face former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, who narrowly lost to Tipton in 2018.

"There is a battle for the heart and soul of our country that I intend on helping win," Boebert says on her campaign website. "I'm running for Congress to stand up for our conservative values, address our current representatives' failed promises and put far-left Democrats back in their place."

By Roger Sollenberger

Roger Sollenberger was a staff writer at Salon (2020-21). Follow him on Twitter @SollenbergerRC.

MORE FROM Roger Sollenberger

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Colorado Conspiracy Theories Donald Trump Elections Elections 2020 Lauren Boebert Qanon Republicans