Ron DeSantis' Press Secretary Deletes Tweet Asking If Nazi Rally Was a 'Stunt'

Ron DeSantis' press secretary has been criticized for asking, in a since deleted tweet, if far-right demonstrations in Florida at the weekend were a "stunt" to attack the GOP.

Christina Pushaw, official spokeswoman for the Florida governor, was responding after neo-Nazis rallies took place in Orlando and Orange County.

On Sunday, a neo-Nazi demonstration took place on a bridge over Interstate 4 between downtown Orlando and the Walt Disney World Resort, featuring Swastika flags and banners with the conservative catchphrase "lets go Brandon," albeit spelled incorrectly.

It followed an earlier neo-Nazi rally in Orange County on Saturday in which those taking part were seen yelling anti-Semitic slurs at passing vehicles, wearing clothing with Nazi insignia, and giving "Heil Hitler" salutes.

During Saturday's event, the far-right extremists held up banners stating they were part of the white supremacist National Socialist Movement.

In a series of other tweets, Pushaw pushed back on claims DeSantis needed to condemn the small rallies, adding that they had "nothing to do" with the GOP or DeSantis.

She later told Newsweek that "attempts to tie the protest to his policies are disgusting political smears."

Earlier, in a now-deleted tweet, Pushaw asked "how do we even know they're Nazis?" before speculating if what occurred in Orlando was "a stunt like the 'white nationalists' who crashed the Youngkin rally in Charlottesville and tuned out to be Dem Staffers?"

Pushaw was referencing to members of the The Lincoln Project, a Republican PAC consisting of Donald Trump critics, posing as far-right extremists with tiki torches during a gubernatorial campaign event for Glenn Youngkin last October.

The PAC said posing as the white supremacists was a way of "reminding Virginians what happened in Charlottesville," where neo-Nazi rally took place in August 2017, and "the Republican party's embrace of those values."

The Democratic Party of Virginia denies having any involvement in the stunt.

Pushaw faced criticism for suggesting the neo-Nazi rallies in Florida could have also been a political stunt.

Bill Prady, co-creator of the hit TV show co-creator of The Big Bang Theory, wrote alongside an image of Pushaw's deleted tweet: "How did Christina Pushaw [...] respond to the Nazis with banners in Orlando today? Outrage? Concern for FL's Jewish community? Or maybe..."

Fred Guttenberg, the gun control campaigner whose 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was killed in the Parkland school shooting, added: "Holy s**t!!! Ron DeSantis, two weeks ago your press secretary Christina Pushaw made a Hitler joke. This is now her response to the disgusting anti Semitic Nazi behavior taking place in Florida this weekend, targeted at people like me. Is this your public position?"

Sports broadcaster Roberto Abramowitz tweeted: "Christina Pushaw, the fact that you would give Nazis the benefit of the doubt over Jews is horrific.

"It really says about you and DeSantis who you (still) work for. I'm disgusted."

In a statement to Newsweek about the tweet, Pushaw said "Democrats attempt to smear Republicans by tying them to Nazis is sadly well documented."

"In my tweet, I deferred to law enforcement to determine who was behind the protest, because frankly, I didn't know anything about the group. But I can guarantee it wasn't the Governor. Attempts to tie the protest to his policies are disgusting political smears."

She said she deleted her tweet "because it was attracting trolls and abuse" after law enforcement linked the rallies to the National Socialist Movement, a group Pushaw said she had "never heard of it before."

"Nazi imagery and hate speech, whoever is using it, is never acceptable. Nobody from our office ever suggested it was."

In a series of other tweets, Pushaw dismissed any attempts to link DeSantis with far-right extremism.

"DeSantis has ALWAYS condemned antisemitic attacks & hatred, and he always will. To suggest otherwise is just plain wrong," Pushaw tweeted.

"Democrat politicians have falsely insinuated all weekend that the Governor's policies are somehow responsible for the protest with Nazi symbols. The same Dem politicians insist falsely that hate groups are the Governor's base. It's just so wrong, sick, and exhausting sometimes," she added.

In a statement condemning the rallies in Florida, Orlando Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani said "to see Nazi scum so publicly come out and attempt to organize in Central Florida is absolutely disgusting.

"They even spelled 'Let's Go Brandon' wrong on their banner, which is what I would expect of Nazi idiots. Every politician in the State of Florida should condemn this behavior and push back against policies that feed into this dangerous ideology.

"Nazism is against every value we hold as Americans, and we must be united against anti-Semitism, homophobia, racism, and ableism."

nazis florida
Gov. Ron DeSantis announces that he wants to raise the minimum starting salary for teachers during a press conference held at Bayview Elementary School on October 07, 2019 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. DeSantis' press secretary Christina Pushaw has been condemned for asking "how do we even know they're Nazis?" following far-right incidents in Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images