A controversial 25-year-old North Carolina House candidate is being described as 'the most impressive speaker' of the RNC

Madison Cawthorn.
(Image credit: Photo Courtesy of the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via Getty Images)

Madison Cawthorn, the controversial 25-year-old Republican House candidate who broke President Trump's record of successful endorsements by beating the White House-backed Lynda Bennett in North Carolina's primary in June, earned praise on Wednesday night for his RNC speech. "God protected my mind, and my ability to speak," Cawthorn, who was paralyzed in a major car accident, told viewers. "So, I say to people who feel forgotten, ignored and invisible: I see you. I hear you."

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Cawthorn's speech — which ended with him rising from his wheelchair to stand "for our republic" — earned him the distinction of being described as "the most impressive speaker of this convention" by Yahoo News' Alexander Nazaryan. Daily Beast columnist Matt Lewis observed that Cawthorn has an "inspiring story. Hard not to root for him." Right-wing producer Robby Starbuck added, "Madison Cawthorn just won over a large part of America with that speech." Conservative Erick Erickson agreed, tweeting, "That's why they are savaging Madison Cawthorne. That guy is great."

It's true that Cawthorn has faced scrutiny. An investigation by Jezebel earlier this month found that Cawthorn appears to make a number of winks to "white supremacist-adjacent nationalism," including the name of his LLC, "SPQR," an acronym that is popular among white nationalists, as well as possessing a decorative Betsy Ross flag, which has been "similarly appropriated by some extremist movements." He also follows exactly 88 people on Twitter, that being a known code for "Heil Hitler." Cawthorn additionally got into hot water for a 2017 Instagram post in which he visited Adolf Hitler's vacation home, known as the Eagle's Nest, and called the leader "the Fuhrer" in the caption (Cawthorn later denounced white nationalism).

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As The New Republic notes, Cawthorn "could be a rising star of the party or an alt-right Trojan horse. Or maybe there's no difference between the two."

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Jeva Lange

Jeva Lange was the executive editor at TheWeek.com. She formerly served as The Week's deputy editor and culture critic. She is also a contributor to Screen Slate, and her writing has appeared in The New York Daily News, The Awl, Vice, and Gothamist, among other publications. Jeva lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.