Rolling Out

Black, gay commentator Rob Smith leaves GOP over ‘betrayal’ and heckling

‘I saw just what the MAGA movement really thought of me,’ he says three months later, though he never explained what took him so long

And now, from the Huge Surprise Department comes this little nugget: Rob Smith, a gay and Black conservative commentator who endured racist and homophobic slurs at a MAGA event in Phoenix last December, said he is leaving the Republican Party.

Smith has more than 316,000 followers on X (formerly Twitter) and is an Army veteran who served in Iraq. But even his popularity here and service to his country abroad couldn’t spare him the consequences of ignoring Maya Angelou’s famous warning — “When someone shows you who they are believe them the first time.”

As a result, he says, he is “politically homeless”—neither Republican nor Democrat. But in an episode of his podcast Can’t Cancel Rob Smith, “I Was Betrayed—Rob Smith Speaks Out,” he said what happened (and what didn’t happen) in Phoenix contributed largely to his decision.

“The reason I don’t identify as MAGA anymore, I don’t identify as Republican, I don’t identify as any of this stuff is because I saw just what the ‘MAGA movement’ really thought of me,” said Smith, though in the moment he tried to laugh it off, tone-deaf to the futility of it all.


No Republican came to his aid, save for former Ohio Congressional candidate J.R. Majewski, though Smith said he could’ve been killed and considered himself the victim of a hate crime. Smith said it wasn’t politically expedient for GOP candidates to speak up against racism and homophobia. However, they never seem to lack a microphone to speak up against other things they don’t like.

“Unfortunately, Trump’s loss in 2020 opened up the door for a very far-right fringe in the party that has become louder and more powerful over the past few years, and it’s clear that officials and others with very large platforms do not care to speak up about this because they think these types will bring them back to power,” he said.

Smith supporter says it was ‘not some hoax’

Some sought to blame Democrats for the heckling — which would’ve been even more cause for Republicans to speak up — and others called it a hoax, but Smith said that wasn’t the case.

“Those people were not pretend Republicans or Antifa types; they were all involved with @RNRenewal (and direct ties to other orgs) and I have many more receipts to back it up which will be released in the coming weeks,” Smith wrote.

Smith also said at least one elected Republican official took part in the heckling—Chris Lonsdale, the District 38 Representative in the Missouri House.

In the video of Smith being accosted by the MAGA crowd, racial slurs are not obvious, but homophobic ones are. Jake Hoffman, the executive director of Tampa Bay Young Republicans, corroborated Smith’s account that both took place.

“Since it’s coming back up, the incident with @robsmithonline in Phoenix did actually happen,” wrote Hoffman, who is also CEO of Invasion Digital Media. “They did actually call him the N-Word and other slurs. I know, because I’m there WITH Rob in the video and heard it. It’s not some hoax. Same trolls that spew BS from [anonymous accounts] just [in real life].”

Smith replied, “People don’t believe it because they don’t WANT to believe it. A big problem, but no longer mine.”

Usually, the term “betrayed” is used for somebody who presents himself as a friend, only to take action that shows the opposite.

When did Republicans or the MAGA element ever show themselves to be Smith’s friend? When did they include him? Why is Smith at all surprised?

When Smith announced he was leaving the Republicans, the majority of the responses spewed even more bile in his direction.

“Rob, I speak on behalf of the MissouriGOP, and I absolutely condone these fine young heroes and patriots for kicking your gaysex self out of the Republican Party,” came another response. And there were others with more racial and homophobic slurs.

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