Christina Pushaw, the press secretary for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), suggested on Sunday — contrary to all evidence — that the white supremacist rallies held in Orlando over the weekend were staged.
On Saturday, neo-Nazis gathered on a street in a suburb of Orlando and on an interstate overpass, holding up anti-Semitic signs and displaying Nazi symbolism while shouting slurs at passing cars.
Pushaw questioned the authenticity of these demonstrations, baselessly claiming that the neo-Nazis could be Democrats trying to make her boss and other Republicans look bad.
“Do we even know they’re Nazis? Or is this a stunt like the ‘white nationalists’ who crashed [then-GOP candidate for governor Glenn Youngkin’s] rally in Charlottesville [Virginia] and turned out to be Dem staffers?” Pushaw said in a now-deleted tweet.
The press secretary’s comments referred to a staged event last fall that was not authorized or coordinated by Democrats at all. What actually happened at Youngkin’s campaign rally was that members of the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump Republican organization that also opposed Youngkin’s candidacy for Virginia governor, appeared holding tiki torches, just as white nationalists and neo-Nazis had done in the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally that resulted in the killing of antiracist protester Heather Heyer.
The Lincoln Project said on the day of the event that their action had been satirical in nature. The demonstration “was our way of reminding Virginians what happened in Charlottesville four years ago, the Republican Party’s embrace of those values, and Glenn Youngkin’s failure to condemn it,” the organization said in a statement.
The events in Florida over the weekend, however, were authentic white supremacist demonstrations.
After criticism of her tweet spread, Pushaw deleted the social media post and dismissed the idea that she was questioning the legitimacy of the far right neo-Nazi demonstrations. But she did defend her original tweet later on, doubling down on the errant connection to the Youngkin event and wrongly claiming, once again, that Democrats were behind the action rather than the Lincoln Project.
Pushaw also continued to like and promote tweets that came to her defense, Florida Politics reported.
Florida House Democratic Leader Rep. Evan Jenne said that Pushaw knew that there was no way the neo-Nazi demonstrators were connected to Democrats.
“Her immediate deletion of that tweet shows she was just talking trash,” Jenne said. “No more or less.”
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