Incoming congresswoman Stephanie Bice on Tuesday downplayed the effect that QAnon and other conspiracy theories are having on GOP politics.
Bice, who took back the Oklahoma congressional seat that Democrats won in 2018, said that the unexpected number of Republican victories this November were more reflective of voters’ desire to have conservative ideas represented in Congress.
“I think that speaks volumes that the public really did want to see Republican values represented in Congress,” she said during a POLITICO Women Rule virtual panel.
The party had a banner election year in terms of diversity, with 22 of its 45-member freshmen class in the House of Representatives either being women or people of color.
However, a handful of those newly-elected lawmakers have amplified or otherwise entertained unfounded ideas that have spread online, most notably Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, drawing rebukes from other Republicans who say such views are damaging the party’s image.
Republican leaders have grappled internally with how to handle these dynamics, especially as the titular head of the party — President Donald Trump — has promoted groundless accusations that the election was stolen from him and refused to acknowledge his defeat to President-elect Joe Biden.
Bice disputed the idea that baseless conspiracies like QAnon — a convoluted theory that posits a cabal of pedophiles have infiltrated and compromised the highest reaches of the U.S. government — have taken hold within the Republican Party and insisted that she hadn’t “heard much about it at all in the past several weeks.”
She refused to criticize Republican elected officials who have embraced these ideas.
“They represent their districts,” she said. “I haven’t had conversations with my colleagues about this specific topic. What I will say is that we all have a difference of opinion, and diversity of thought is important.”
Bice also sidestepped a question about whether she accepted Biden’s victory and said Trump is right to raise questions about the integrity of the electoral process, drawing hackles from other panelists.
LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, said it is “disingenuous at best” for Republicans to raise questions after for years dismissing voting-related issues raised by Democrats. And Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) said it makes it harder for the country to tackle the pandemic and other challenges “so long as we have a group of people in this country that are more invested in conspiracy theories and not willing to move on from that.”