Accused of promoting a Twitter post insinuating an apparent Nazi rally was faked by Jewish Democratic Attorney General candidate Daniel Uhlfelder, Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ press secretary said Tuesday she was only commenting on the masks worn by the demonstrators.
It is the second time this year that DeSantis’ press secretary Christina Pushaw has spurred controversy regarding tweets suggesting apparent Nazi rallies in Orlando might be fake.
“I just commented ‘masks?’ Because I found it odd that the demonstrators were wearing masks outdoors in the Orlando heat,” Pushaw said in an email, when asked for a response to Uhlfelder’s charge that she had “boosted” a tweet that accused him of being involved in a fake Nazi rally at Walt Disney World over the weekend.
According to WNBD News Daytona Beach, which first reported on the story Tuesday, the events unfolded after a video began circulating online of a small number of protesters waiving two Nazi flags and one that read “DeSantis County” outside an entrance to Walt Disney World.
A Twitter user with the handle @gwardhome tweeted, “I am gonna pull the trigger and call this a fake. A scam. First @DWUhlfelderLaw is pushing it, and all he does is lie and try to gun up drama. Second it is maybe 3-5 people, all wearing masks. No other signage past 3 flags.”
Pushaw commented on that tweet with “Masks ???” and an emoji of a mask.
Uhlfelder responded by pointing out he is a great-grandson of Holocaust victims. He denounced the tweet’s accusation that he organized a fake Nazi rally, and denounced Pushaw’s response to the tweet.
“The DeSantis regime once again showed they are more focused on attacking those who call out Nazis than condemning the actual Nazis,” Uhlfelder said in a news release issued by his campaign. “While DeSantis supporters proudly waved swastikas, his team baselessly blamed a Jew whose great-grandparents were killed in the Holocaust. If calling out Nazis is a problem for your agenda, maybe it’s your agenda that is a problem. Condemning those who invoke the worst moments of world history should be easy; but instead, they target me as a scapegoat. It’s shameful, and far beneath the office of Governor.”
When DeSantis’ press secretary was asked for a response to Uhlfelder, she blasted him for his comments, and she blasted the journalist for asking about them.
She insisted she did not retweet the @gwardhome tweet, as the journalist had suggested in an email inquiry.
“This is sheer desperation on your part and his,” she replied.
Then she went to Twitter to declare in her own tweet that the journalist and Uhlfelder were “getting dangerously close to defamation territory.”
When subsequently asked if she had intended to give credence to the tweet blaming Uhlfelder for the Nazi demonstration, she replied, “I most certainly did not tweet or retweet any accusation that Uhlfelder, or any other individual, was behind this protest.”
This is not the first time Pushaw has raised controversy after going on Twitter to comment on apparent Nazi demonstrations in the Orlando area with responses other than condemnations of the apparent Nazi demonstrations themselves.
In January, she responded to Twitter outrage over an Orlando Nazi demonstration by asking, “Do we even know they’re Nazis?” and suggesting it might be a fake Nazi demonstration.