“Meet the Press” host Kristen Welker pressed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Sunday for failing to condemn neo-Nazi protests in Florida under his leadership.
Neo-Nazi groups have protested several times in Florida this year, including outside Disney World and in the nearby Orlando, Florida. Neo-Nazi demonstrators also hanged anti-Semitic banners along roadways and over bridges in the state.
“You are the governor. You are a presidential candidate. Your state has heard from both [Sens.] Marco Rubio and Rick Scott condemning those neo-Nazi protests. Why didn’t you speak out? Why didn’t you use your voice to say that you’re not going to stand for that?” Welker asked DeSantis.
“Of course, we condemn that. I mean, you just look at everything that we’ve done in terms of our policies,” DeSantis answered.
“But you didn’t at the time, governor,” Welker pointed out. “You didn’t at the time, according to Randy Fine.”
Fine, the only Jewish Republican in the Florida state legislature, wrote in a Washington Times op-ed that DeSantis is not doing enough to fight against anti-Semitism in Florida and that led him to switch his endorsement to Donald Trump in the GOP primary.
“I got jumped by a Nazi in Florida. On video. Two weeks ago,” Fine wrote. “In Ron DeSantis’ Florida, that’s no big deal.”
“Eighteen months ago, my Nazi ‘friends’ showed up in Florida. They assaulted a Rabbi. They beat up a Jew who yelled back at one of their protests. They commandeered highway overpasses to illegally hang banners saying ‘Gas the Jews.’ They have tormented Jews at their homes with filth,” Fine added. “Until a few weeks ago, Governor DeSantis said almost nothing. And worse, he did almost nothing.”
On Sunday, DeSantis dismissed Fine’s claims as an attempt to get “15 minutes of fame”.
“He’s just trying to get his 15 minutes of fame. I mean, this guy was singing my praises a couple months ago,” DeSantis said. “He’s got his different reasons why he’s doing that. We have acted very, very swiftly and decisively…..There have been arrests that have been made with people that were threatening to do harm to our Jewish community.”
“He’s just trying to create a name for himself, so that’s all nonsense,” DeSantis added. “Everybody knows that’s nonsense. And don’t give somebody 15 minutes of fame just because they’re letting you try to do a preferred narrative just to hit me. It’s nonsense. Our record is second to none, and we’ll continue to lead on these issues.”
Fine later released a statement expressing his disappointment with DeSantis’ “flippant” response to his concerns.
“I am very disappointed with the Governor’s flippant response to the fears of thousands of Florida’s Jewish parents,” Fine wrote, according to Florida Politics. “I am even more disappointed that the Governor continues to call the rise of Nazis in Florida ‘fake.’ The Governor didn’t mind the fame of signing my bills to tackle antisemitism, in Israel no less; I am not interested in fame for pointing out his failure to use them. Instead of talking about me, he should protect Jewish children and families. I will fight for that for far more than 15 minutes.”