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Florida Democrats condemn Rick Scott for labeling Democrats ‘anti-Semitic party’

“The Senator’s comments were not only ridiculous; they are offensive to all of us.”

After GOP U.S. Sen. Rick Scott labeled Democrats as the “anti-Semitic party,” several Florida Democrats are calling out Scott for his comments.

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch released a statement that built on criticism of Scott’s remarks from Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

“The Senator’s comments were not only ridiculous; they are offensive to all of us, Democrats and Republicans, who work hard together to advance Jewish values and the US-Israel relationship,” Deutch said in a statement.

“Sen. Scott should apologize to all Democrats and Republicans who work together every day on these vital issues, and he should apologize to the Jewish community of Florida, many of whom are lifelong Democrats who have been fighting anti-Semitism and standing up for Israel since its founding in 1948.

“And he should sit with me so I can explain to him what’s possible when politicians stop using dangerous rhetoric and start working together.”

Scott’s comments came in response to the controversy over Donald Trump‘s attacks on four Democratic congresswomen.

The President targeted U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan in a Twitter thread Sunday. Trump responded to criticism by the congresswoman by telling them to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

Three of those women were born in America. Omar came to America as a young girl and is a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Still, Trump’s comments were a variant of xenophobic attacks that have been lobbed at immigrants throughout the country’s history.

Scott only moderately distanced himself from Trump’s sentiments before attempting to turn the attention to the Democratic Party.

He said Trump’s comments were “clearly not the way I would do it, but let’s remember the position that these Democrats have taken. They’ve become the anti-Semitic party now, and so that’s wrong.”

That assertion prompted strong pushback from Deutch, who is Jewish.

“I would have commented earlier, but I have been busy this week — first, leading my colleagues to unanimously condemn the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Center in Argentina on the 25th anniversary of this horrific attack; overwhelmingly passing out of the Foreign Affairs Committee my legislation strengthening the US-Israel relationship and providing a path to justice for victims of Palestinian terrorism; and finally, joining with my Democratic and Republican committee colleagues to condemn the anti-Semitic BDS movement,” Deutch said.

“That’s a busy three days, especially since I recently returned from Israel with a bipartisan delegation of Members, Democrats and Republicans, where we attended our country’s Independence Day celebration in Jerusalem.”

State Sen. Lori Berman also issued a statement hammering Scott.

“As a proud Jewish-American and strong supporter of the state of Israel I find Rick Scott’s comments to be deeply offensive, and his refusal to call Trump’s tweets racist equally as offensive,” Berman said.

“Rick Scott is trying to use the fallacy that the Democratic Party is anti-Semitic to not have to acknowledge Trump’s racist comments.”

Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo called Scott’s remarks a “naked and ugly attempt” to divert from Trump’s comments.

“White nationalism and racism have a dark history of scapegoating Jews, and only two years ago these groups were chanting ‘Jews shall not replace us’ in Charlottesville,” Rizzo said.

“His comments defending Trump’s racism embolden the very groups that promote hate and violence and ignores Democratic Jews and their contributions to the Democratic Party.”

Following Scott’s defense of Trump, the President appeared at a North Carolina rally Wednesday night where he continued to bash Omar. That prompted the crowd to loudly chant, “Send her back.”

Trump stood silent as the crowd chanted. He later tweeted, “What a crowd, and what great people. The enthusiasm blows away our rivals on the Radical Left.”

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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