Joe Henderson: Maybe Nikki Fried could work with Matt Gaetz, but why should she?


It should be easy for Nikki Fried to stop the criticism she received for having a working relationship with U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Fried could take to Twitter and write that he’s a creep for saying in a speech recently, “Why is it that the women with the least likelihood of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about having abortions?”

Fried made abortion rights a central plank in her platform for Governor, and Gaetz handed her a megaphone to shout that sexist trolls like Gaetz want to demean and control women. It shouldn’t be hard to distance one’s self from someone with that hanging over their head. After all, he is under investigation for possible sex trafficking.

She is one of the highest-profile women in Florida. Speak out!

Problem solved.

What did Fried do, though?

She blamed the media.

“My opponent & media calling me “friends” with Matt Gaetz are purposely perpetuating a lie that women can’t work with men in politics professionally without owning all their baggage,” she tweeted. “It’s chauvinistic & part of the culture that’s prevented Florida from electing a woman governor.”

This is what Gaetz tweeted last week about Fried in that professional working relationship.

“Nikki Fried is a radical Leftist,” he wrote. “She would take guns from law abiding people while allowing abortion up to the point of birth. Floridians would be wise to reject her candidacy if they respect life and freedom.”

That broadside came after Fried said, “When I am Governor we’re going to work to ban (assault weapons) in Florida. It’s just common sense.”

Well, she’s right about that. It is common sense, but that’s a column for another day.

Saying it’s possible to work with men like Gaetz “professionally without owning all their baggage” is like saying you can work with a six-foot diamondback rattlesnake if you just explain things clearly.

While some might praise Fried for trying to rise above, I would rather see some of the spit and vinegar she has often unleashed during her campaign. She has no trouble speaking her mind on any number of issues, and she shouldn’t defend the indefensible when it comes to Gaetz.

The weird dynamic of the Fried-Gaetz relationship became a thing when Business Insider reported last year that Fried and Gaetz were “pals.”

Fried reportedly was the first to text Gaetz to see if he was OK after the Jan. 6 insurrection.

He was just fine.

Gaetz said later that those who stormed the Capitol were patriotic.

“We’re ashamed of nothing,” Gaetz said on Steve Bannon’s podcast. “We’re proud of the work we did on January 6 to make legitimate arguments about election integrity.”

Election integrity, huh?

That’s code for, “If the other guys got more votes than we did, we’d just say they cheated and declare victory. Martial law isn’t out of the question, either.”

Fried doesn’t need to work professionally with Gaetz, and pretending otherwise is disingenuous.

It’s not chauvinistic or a lie to say she couldn’t work with Gaetz, but it’s completely accurate to say that thought should never cross her mind.

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