DeSantis campaign fires aide behind neo-Nazi meme video

Video superimposed Florida governor on a Nazi-appropriated Sonnenrad in front of marching soldiers

Alex Woodward
Wednesday 26 July 2023 01:27 BST
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A campaign staffer for Ron DeSantis who shared an online video using Nazi imagery with the Florida governor’s face has been fired.

Nate Hochman, a 25-year-old campaign communications staff member who has written for The National Review and The New York Times, shared a video over the weekend to an anonymous pro-DeSantis Twitter account featuring a meme template that has been adopted by far-right and neo-fascist creators.

The video shows a “wojack” character, unhappy with news footage of Donald Trump, watching the Florida seal turn into the Nazi-appropriated Sonnenrad symbol. Mr DeSantis is then seen superimposed on the icon in front of soldiers marching in formation.

That video was then retweeted by Mr Hochman before it was deleted, according to posts reviewed by The Independent.

Mr Hochman appears to have retweeted posts from the anonymous account at least six other times.

“Nate Hochman is no longer with the campaign,” a spokesperson for the DeSantis campaign said in a statement to NBC News. “And we will not be commenting on him further.”

Another clip on the anonymous account included audio of a man calling Mr DeSantis a “fascist” and cut together footage of the Florida governor alongside clips of Nazis and Benito Mussolini.

The account also has been retweeted by the DeSantis campaign’s War Room account and the DeSantis-linked Never Back Down super PAC account.

His departure also follows another video promoted by the DeSantis campaign that relies on the familiar aesthetics of far-right and neo-fascist memes to celebrate Mr DeSantis’s “draconian” anti-LGBT+ agenda and threat to “trans existence”.

That video also was created by a campaign staffer but was made to appear as if it was produced externally, according to The New York Times.

The videos have underscored the growing influence of fringe far-right online communities within mainstream Republican spaces, from the emergence of explicitly violent authoritarian “dark MAGA” memes to the dominance of “fashwave” aesthetics on social media platforms.

The DeSantis campaign has fired more than 40 per cent of its original staff since launching his bid for the 2024 Republican nomination for president. At least 38 staffers have been laid off since the campaign’s launch in May, including at least 26 people on 25 July.

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