STAIND frontman Aaron Lewis welcomed North Carolina Republican congressman Madison Cawthorn to the stage during his concert Saturday night (February 12) at Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee, North Carolina. Lewis introduced Cawthorn, who has developed a national following as one of the most far-right members of Congress, as his "dear friend." He added: "Not only is he the youngest congressman ever, he's doing some fucking shit that I've never seen a congressman have the balls to do. He's putting through legislature to limit terms limits. He fucking cleans his guns while on a Zoom call with other fucking liberal congressmen. He's from your fucking district." After Cawthorn gave a brief speech, Lewis called him a "fucking lion," and added that "we need lions." Cawthorn — who is the youngest member of Congress at 26 — was heavily criticized for promoting then-President Donald Trump's January 6, 2021 rally near the U.S. Capitol, writing on Twitter that "the future of this Republic hinges on the actions of a solitary few." He was also a speaker at the rally, where he once again repeated baseless claims of election fraud. "My friends, the Democrats with all the fraud they have done in this election, the Republicans hiding and not fighting — they are trying to silence your voice," Cawthorn said during the rally. The day after the riot, he called members of the mob "disgusting" and "pathetic," saying he could not support their actions even though they likely would have voted for him if they were in his district. But only seven months later, while speaking at a Macon County GOP event in Franklin, Cawthorn called those arrested for their part in the insurrection "political prisoners." He later told the Smoky Mountain News: "I want to be very clear that the people that I'm specifically talking about, those people were there causing violence or they were causing some kind of vandalism, I want them to be charged to the full extent of the law. Even the people who were actually just around the Capitol, I want them to be charged to the full extent of law." In recent months, Lewis, an outspoken conservative rocker who reinvented himself as a solo country artist in the last decade, has been railing against COVID-19 vaccine mandates, calling the life-saving jab an "unproven" drug which hasn't been "tested." Lewis made headlines in September when he urged his fans to chant "Fuck Joe Biden" during a STAIND concert in Pennsylvania. Aaron, who is widely considered to be one of the most politically conservative musicians in rock, told the Anchorage Press in a January 2020 interview that he considered the first Donald Trump impeachment by the House Of Representatives as the clearest representation of what's wrong with America these days. Lewis was a staunch critic of President Barack Obama, telling a crowd at one of his solo concerts in 2016: "Barack Obama should have been impeached a long fucking time ago. Every fucking decision he makes is against the Constitution, it's against what's good for our fucking country, and he is truly the worst fucking president that we have ever had in the history of this fucking country." That same year, Lewis told Billboard that he would support Trump in the U.S. presidential race, even though he was "disappointed" by the real estate mogul "with the bickering and the name-calling." Lewis added that he voted for Senator Ted Cruz, Trump's closest competitor in the Republican nomination race, in the Massachusetts primary.

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