The floundering presidential campaign of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) fired more than a third of its staffers on Tuesday—including Nate Hochman, a speechwriter who created a promo video for DeSantis that ends by flashing a Nazi symbol.
Hochman is a 25-year-old GOP rising star who praised white nationalist Nick Fuentes; he left his position as a staff writer at the conservative National Review to join DeSantis’s gubernatorial staff, then his presidential campaign. Hochman came under fire this week for retweeting a video from the DeSantisCams Twitter account that bashes former President Donald Trump and ends with DeSantis standing in front of the seal of Florida as it morphs into a sonnenrad, an ancient symbol appropriated by Nazis and white supremacists. (The video is, for some reason, set to Kate Bush’s “Running up That Hill.”)
Semafor reported on Tuesday evening that the campaign fired Hochman after he shared the video, then Axios learned that Hochman actually created the video himself, then posted it on the DeSantisCams fan account. Interestingly, the New York Times reported on Sunday that a widely derided anti-LGBTQ video was also made by a campaign staffer then passed off to other supporters to make it look like it was created independently. It’s not clear if Hochman also made that video. Both videos in question have since been deleted.
Before it was reported that he made the video, Hochman told Semafor that “it was an honor to work for Governor DeSantis” and didn’t comment further on the origins of the Sonnenrad video. He also didn’t provide a statement to Axios. A campaign official told Axios: “Nate Hochman is no longer with the campaign. And we will not be commenting on him further.”
When DeSantis hired Hochman in March, some other Republicans were critical of the move, given Hochman’s praise of Feuntes. “I think Nick’s probably a better influence than Ben Shapiro on young men who might otherwise be conservatives,” Hochman said in a Twitter Spaces forum in August 2022. “The fact that kids are listening to you, there are good things and bad things about it. But the fact that you have said super edgy things means that there’s a pretty strong ceiling to what you can accomplish in politics.” Others defended Hochman because he is Jewish.
The DeSantis campaign is imploding and, even though the candidate himself is out here doing things like defending a curriculum that teaches that enslaved people benefited from slavery, his aides seem to have realized that it’s unwise to keep a Nazi sympathizer (or at the very least thinks someone who thinks Nazi dog-whistles are an effective strategy) on staff.
Semafor reported that donors have been “worried that the campaign was ‘too online,’ and too focused on social issues that appealed to highly engaged anti-woke conservatives on Twitter.” Does this mean DeSantis will stop saying “woke” repeatedly in every speech? Probably not—but we shall see.