New VTGOP Leaders Jump On the 'Let's Go Brandon!' Bandwagon | Off Message

New VTGOP Leaders Jump On the 'Let's Go Brandon!' Bandwagon


A logo for the Vermont GOP rally - SCREENSHOT ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Screenshot ©️ Seven Days
  • A logo for the Vermont GOP rally
The first order of business for the new leadership of Vermont’s GOP was to plan a rally using thinly-veiled profanity to blast the leadership of President Joe Biden.

Party chair Paul Dame, who was elected Saturday, on Monday announced a “Let’s Go Brandon” rally to be held November 13 in the Rutland County town of the same name.

The phrase has gained viral popularity in certain conservative circles as a coded insult toward Biden. It’s a stand-in for the "Fuck Joe Biden” chant overheard at an October 2 NASCAR event won by driver Brandon Brown. An NBC reporter who was interviewing Brown on air described the chant inaccurately as “Let’s go Brandon.”

Dame said the party’s new leaders chose the theme because they wanted to “start with a little fun” before digging into the policy issues facing the state.

“President Biden has done nothing to help the people of Vermont, so VT Republicans are going to do something to support the people of Vermont,” Dame’s announcement reads. “And we're going to start in my own home town — Brandon, VT!”

Dame, an independent financial adviser, served one term in the Vermont House representing Essex Junction and now lives in St. George. He succeeded Deb Billado, whose unabashed support for Donald Trump deeply polarized the state party.

Dame told Seven Days on Monday he’s not a Trump fan, but that doesn’t mean he supports Biden, either. He said he saw the event as an opportunity to both capitalize on the viral popularity of the phrase and draw attention to economic woes.

“It’s almost too perfect not to do it,” Dame said.

He predicted the phrase would be forgotten by Thanksgiving, and wanted to get some mileage out of it before then. In doing so, he hoped to help local businesses, call attention to the party’s new leadership, and maybe even raise some money.

“As state party chair, sometimes when you see an opportunity you have to take it,” Dame said.

Bruce Olsson, chair of the Vermont Democratic Party, issued a statement deriding the event.

“As Vermonters continue to deal with the serious effects of the pandemic, both economically and in terms of health issues, the Republican Party continues to speak in code and engage in childish name calling,” Olsson wrote.

Olsson cited the dollars Vermont has received in federal aid during the Biden administration, as well as the recently passed infrastructure bill. He also noted Gov. Phil Scott’s spokesperson has called Dame a “good candidate” to lead the party.

“Is Paul Dame Phil Scott's idea of a 'moderate' Republican?” Olsson asked.

The phrase has morphed from the original crass expression into something more nuanced, Dame said. It has caught on not just because of the anger it channels toward Biden, but also the media’s refusal to cover the Democratic president as critically as it did his Republican predecessor, he said.

“I see ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ as a sanitized version that still gets at the discontent but then adds a layer of media criticism,” he said.

The rally is set to take place from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on November 13 at Central Park in Brandon.

The support for “the people of Vermont” claimed in the rally announcement includes donating “a portion of the proceeds” from the sales of “Let’s Go Brandon” hats, T-shirts and bumper stickers to the Brandon Area Emergency Food Shelf, according to the announcement. Attendees are also encouraged to visit local eateries during their visit.

On Tuesday, Gov. Scott weighed in on the rally during his weekly press conference. He pointed that his administration has worked well with the president, and he noted that 65 percent of Vermont had voted for Biden.
“As Republicans, we should be looking at how do we attract at least 20 percent of them, 30 percent of them in order to win elections in the future, not offend them,” he said.

Colin Flanders contributed reporting.

This post was updated at 4:30 p.m. on November 9, 2021.

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