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Inside the Oakwood Cafe that morning, 78-year-old Phil Neff, who supported Trump, paid for his breakfast amid the morning bustle. Afterward, he told CNN he believes that Greene “has more interest in herself than serving the community,” but added with a note of resignation: “That’s what the people chose.”
“I don’t think she’s helping herself. But from a political standpoint, I think her organization is growing. A lot of money is pouring into it from the national market, and so she may be so strong that nobody can defeat her,” said Neff, who supported a different candidate in the GOP primary last year. He declined to say whether he voted for Greene last November and said he would “consider who the opposition is” before he votes for her for reelection.
Strong support for Trump in Greene’s district, but trepidation about her rising profile
Pulling into Dalton’s historic downtown, about 30 miles southeast of Chattanooga, Tennessee, a large sign declares it the “carpet capital of the world.” According to the city’s visitors bureau, Dalton and the surrounding area produce 90% of the world’s carpet, and the industry employs more than 30,000 people in Whitfield County alone. But downtown looks like most others in main street America: There are coffee shops and florists, restaurants and taverns, pawn shops, boutique clothing and home decor stores and auto repair shops.
“I’m more concerned about the bad publicity that Dalton, Georgia, is getting,” Neff said when asked about Greene’s rising national profile. “Dalton, Georgia, is recognized throughout the world for the development of the carpet. That’s what most people know it by. But now it’s being known by the idea that everybody in Dalton was a supporter of Marjorie Greene — and they were not.”
Brandyn Parker is a 37-year-old Republican leather worker at a shop downtown. Standing outside the store Thursday with a possum on a leash, Parker said she too is concerned about how Greene’s comments are shaping perceptions of the GOP and the 14th District. Parker voted for Trump in 2016, but skipped the 2020 election because she didn’t feel like she had good choices at the top of the ticket.
“I feel like the things she thinks and says — and of course, the bigger following she has — that makes people think that everyone in the Republican Party feels and thinks that way when it’s not true,” said Parker. She added that she didn’t understand Greene’s invocation of Nazi Germany. “Wearing a mask is not anything compared to the Holocaust.”
Wayne White, a retired conservative who voted for Greene in November even though he did not support her during the GOP primary, said the Georgia congresswoman’s comments were “just not appropriate.”
“I don’t think anybody should be comparing anything for the Nazis and the Holocaust. It’s different worlds,” White said during an interview in Rome, Georgia, hours before Greene’s rally. “She has been ineffective, and she’ll continue to be ineffective as long as she is as controversial as she is. She doesn’t garner support of other Republicans.”
Greene’s controversies create problems for GOP nationally and in Georgia