A Trump-supporting Florida Republican candidate is getting pounded online for a tweet he posted Sunday that used the tragic death of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez to score a cheap political point.
The New York Daily News reported that within an hour of the team's announcement that Fernandez, 24, had perished in a late night boating accident, state Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) used the incident to disparage athletes who protest during the national anthem.
“To all who will kneel during the anthem today -- just remember how Jose Fernandez risked his life just for the chance to stand for it,” Gaetz tweeted.
Fernandez defected to the U.S. from Cuba when he was 15 years old after making multiple previous attempts. During his perilous 2007 passage to the U.S., he plunged into the water at once point to save his drowning mother.
Commentator Keith Olbermann blasted Gaetz in a tweet of his own, writing, "Delete your account, you cheap exploitative humanoid scumbag.”
Gaetz responded by mocking the people whose sensibilities he'd offended and doubling down on his remarks.
“My point is that while America remains imperfect, so many do so much to enjoy our freedoms,” he wrote. “Seems ungrateful to kneel. Just my opinion.”
Many Twitter users responded angrily.
Please remember that @mattgaetz didn't have the courage to serve in the military but will exploit a tragic death to… https://t.co/WUeRPrq5vZ— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈 (@Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈) 1474834115.0
@mattgaetz Delete your career— Charles P. Pierce (@Charles P. Pierce) 1474818029.0
Countdown to inevitable @mattgaetz martyrdom tweet about intolerant liberals in my mark. 5...4...3...2....— Charles P. Pierce (@Charles P. Pierce) 1474819837.0
One user brought up Gaetz' criminal history. He was arrested in 2008 for driving his father's black BMW SUV drunk. When police inspected the vehicle, they found that Gaetz had been drinking bottles of mouthwash.
.@mattgaetz remember when you got away with a DUI in your daddy's bmw? https://t.co/BMsp4fXwvU— nick is the grinch (@nick is the grinch) 1474816414.0
Others continued to blast his tasteless decision to make a political point by disrespecting a dead athlete and his grieving family.