A member of the press on Sunday trotted out the usual tactic of using Nazis to smear Republicans and conservatives during an interview with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Unfortunately for her, the strategy fell woefully flat.
During an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, moderator Kristen Welker interviewed DeSantis about a series of issues. One of the topics was comments made by Florida lawmaker Randy Fine, the only Jewish Republican in the state legislature.
He recently penned an op-ed taking DeSantis to task for failing to adopt a stronger stance against neo-Nazi activities that had occurred in the Sunshine State. In the piece, he indicated that he would be switching his support from DeSantis to former President Donald Trump, who is currently leading the rest of the field by a healthy margin in the polls.
Welker brought up the issue, claiming that DeSantis had not “been nearly as vocal in opposing neo-Nazi harassment and attacks in your state as you have in opposing what you believe is support for Hamas.”
DeSantis responded, saying that Fine was “just trying to get his 15 minutes of fame” and recalled how he was “singing my praises a couple of months ago.”
We have acted very, very swiftly and decisively. For example, after this attack, we dispatched state law enforcement working in conjunction with locals to protect our Jewish institutions, our Jewish day schools, our synagogues. There have been arrests that have been made with people that were threatening to do harm to our Jewish community. We have some of the strongest laws on the books from anti-BDS to financial support for security of anywhere in the country.
DeSantis also noted that Florida has “probably the most in migration of Jewish residents” and challenged Welker to name “another governor who scrambled planes to Israel” to bring back Americans trapped in the Middle East after the war broke out. “Almost 700 people we've rescued, and we're proud of stepping up and leading on that,” he said.
Welker doubled down, noting that Florida Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott condemned neo-Nazi protests that occurred in the state earlier this year. “Why didn’t you speak out?” she asked. “Why didn’t you use your voice to say that you’re not going to stand for that?”
“Of course, we condemn that. You just look at everything that we've done in terms of our policies,” DeSantis began to reply before Welker cut him off: “But you didn't at the time, Governor. You didn't at the time, according to Randy Fine. According to Randy Fine, you did not at the time.”
The governor responded again, saying that Welker should not “give somebody 5 minutes of fame because they’re letting you try to do a preferred narrative just to hit me.”
“Our record is second to none and we’ll continue to lead on these issues,” DeSantis concluded.
NBC's Kirsten Welker tries to use Nazis to smear Ron DeSantis.— Jeff Charles, An Awful Pundit🏴 (@jeffcharlesjr) October 29, 2023
This did not go well for her. pic.twitter.com/QwW46k4ekZ
In this particular exchange, two competing narratives collided. On one side, we have Welker and Fine suggesting that DeSantis has not done enough to fight against antisemitism. Indeed, Welker seemed to imply that DeSantis isn’t concerned with Nazi activity in his state. Conversely, DeSantis and his defenders would argue that his actions speak far louder than his words – and his record proves it.
The reality is that regardless of Welker and Fine’s claims, there is absolutely no evidence that DeSantis somehow approves of or is ambivalent to neo-Nazis. This was nothing more than a failed “gotcha” attempt to weaponize racist imbeciles against a Republican. DeSantis’ record of being an ally to the Jewish community is quite clear.
Would it have been better for DeSantis politically to condemn the Nazis? Sure. You can’t really go wrong by rhetorically slapping around actual racists and bigots. However, as I stated previously, actions speak much louder than words. Indeed, folks on the far left who most loudly claim to oppose bigotry are the ones doing their level best to make it even worse. In the end, this appears to be yet another cynical effort to paint someone as a bigot. Unfortunately for Welker, it was about as effective as towing a big rig with a yo-yo string.