DeSantis Campaign Leaked Messages Reveal Nazi Video Discussion – Rolling Stone

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If cratering polling and campaign finance woes weren’t enough, the Florida Governor’s run for the Republican 2024 presidential nomination was also marred in recent weeks by two instances of poorly thought out posting. Leaked chat messages obtained by Semafor have revealed members of Ron DeSantis’ campaign staff discussing the creation and distribution of controversial videos to social media “anons” unaffiliated with the campaign.

In late June, the campaign’s rapid-response X (the social media company formerly known as Twitter) account posted a bizarre video attacking former President Donald Trump as being too accepting of LGBTQ+ individuals when compared to DeSantis. The video was widely criticized for its homophobic messaging. Last week, the campaign once again found itself in the midst of controversy when one of its staffers, Nate Hochman, retweeted a video from the pro-DeSantis account “Ron DeSantis Fancams” that featured an image of a Sonnenrad, a symbol that was co-opted by the Nazi regime.

As it turns out, these videos were being produced in-house by the DeSantis campaign, and shopped out to influencers in order to give the appearance of organic content creation. Hotchman himself produced the video he later boosted via a separate account. The screenshots obtained by Semafor reveal that high level staffers were in the scheme, including Campaign Director of Rapid Response Christina Pushaw, and Press Secretary Bryan Griffinwere. The messages originated from a group chat housed on the encrypted communication app Signal, and titled “War Room Creative Ideas.”

“This belongs in the Smithsonian,” one staffer wrote in response to the video containing the Nazi symbol. According to Semafor’s review of the messages, Pushaw encouraged those in the chat to continue to produce meme-able content. At one point, while discussing a clip of Trump, Pushaw asked if members of the chat knew “any Anons who might want it.” A staffer replied that they could potentially shop out the clip to “Proud Elephant,” a heavily pro-DeSantis X account. 

But efforts to keep the campaign’s affiliation with the distribution of the video’s covert have failed, and in the midst of a “campaign reset,” some of those involved in their production have been booted from the team. 


Hotchman was amongst the one third of staffers who were laid off in July, coincidentally his axing came just days after the video he had produced created a storm of controversy for the campaign. Another staffer involved in the chat, Kyle Lamb, was also amongst those dismissed. 

Despite the chaos it’s caused him, DeSantis defended the videos during a Monday interview with Fox News, and made a point to throw his rapid response team under the bus. “These things get shared, or whatever — and look, I’m responsible for it. Don’t get me wrong,” DeSantis told host Bret Baier. “But the idea that I was sitting there, like — oh, share this video? No. It’s a rapid response thing.”

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