NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Sunday, September 25, 2016, 3:09 PM
What a screwball.
A GOP congressional candidate from Florida waited just an hour to politicize Jose Fernandez’s death on Twitter — turning the tragic loss into an excuse to bash activist athletes.
“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,” Matt Gaetz, a Trump-loving member of the Florida House of Representatives, tweeted soon after news broke of Fernandez’s unexpected death.
His tactless tweet took aim at the trend of professional athletes — starting with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick — who kneel in protest during the national anthem.
Fernandez, the Miami Marlins’ 24-year-old pitcher, escaped his native Cuba in 2007 after serving jail time for three failed attempts. On his fourth try, he jumped into the water and rescued his mother after she fell out of their boat.
Twitter users immediately took swings at Gaetz’s tweet, with sports commentator Keith Olbermann calling the candidate a “cheap exploitative humanoid scumbag.”
Gaetz only mocked his haters, and doubled down on his message.
“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.”
A self-dubbed “constitutional conservative,” Gaetz was an early Donald Trump supporter, and has parroted some of the GOP presidential nominee’s most hateful views.
“When Donald Trump is president, Northwest Florida’s voice in Congress must ring loud and clear for bold, conservative reform. Mine will,” Gaetz said in the statement announcing his congressional candidacy.
Jose Fernandez, the Marlins pitcher who escaped his native Cuba, died Sunday in a boating accident.
In the same statement, Gaetz said illegal immigrants are “sucking us dry” and that the Second Amendment is “under attack” by Washington, D.C.
On his campaign website, Gaetz warns of a “trojan horse” attack by Syrian refugees — a term Trump has also used while trashing refugees.
Goetz won the GOP primary for his district Aug. 30. He could not immediately be reached for comment.