PACE — Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz visited Pace High School Wednesday morning to meet with students and answer questions.

Pace High’s broadcast team, WPHS, asked Gaetz how he became a successful politician at such a young age.

“I believe that this is a country that requires young people to step forward and make a contribution,” Gaetz said. “I was elected as one of the youngest members of the state legislature when I was 27 years old, and at 35, I’m currently the third youngest member of the Congress.

“Throughout most of my life, I’ve had to spend time trying to convince people older than me that our generation has got a major contribution to make to the progress of the country.”

Students asked the congressman why he chose to come to Pace.

“We’ve got folks here who are regular folks, who go to work every day and expect there to be rules they can follow to advance the interests of their families and their community,” Gaetz said. “So I wanted to come to Pace High School early in my term in office to interact with the teachers and the principal and the leadership, but also the students to see what are some of the things on the minds of students.

“Are students focused on the threats that we face in the world, whether its challenges in North Korea or the complex relationship we have with Russia, when we see what’s going on in the Middle East — are students here looking at that as having a direct connection to the work that we do in Northwest Florida?”

Gaetz spoke about recent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, and condemned the white supremacist movement, but said that “white-washing” the nation’s history by removing Confederate monuments is not the right answer.

When asked if the rumors of his possible run for Attorney General were true, Gaetz said his only focus right now is the Congressional District he presides over and the substantive changes that need to be made.

According to Gaetz, he first got involved in politics when he and fellow Okaloosa County residents attended a city council to oppose tax spikes. Gaetz grew up in Okaloosa, graduating from Bluewater Elementary School, Ruckel Middle School and Niceville High School.

He lives in Fort Walton Beach.

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