Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is facing criticism for referring to Elon Musk as African-American.
Reporters asked the Republican governor and rumored presidential hopeful his thoughts on political backing from the tech business mogul on Wednesday. DeSantis said he was focused on his current reelection campaign but would be happy for the “support from African Americans.”
“I’m focused on 2022, but with Elon Musk, what I would say is, you know, I welcome support from African Americans. What can I say?” DeSantis said during a press conference announcing the revival of the state’s defense force.
Best known for being the SpaceX founder and Telsa CEO, Musk was born in South Africa. Reports show he grew up in an elite, segregated white community under a racist apartheid system.
Musk said in a tweet Wednesday that he was leaning towards voting for DeSantis in the 2024 presidential race, even though the Sunshine State governor has not confirmed that he would be throwing his hat in the ring. The Donald Trump ally is running for reelection this year, with a primary scheduled in August.
MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” host and a former Florida resident Joy Reid said DeSantis’ comment was not funny and was a version of great replacement theory. The theory, inveted by French writer Renaud Camus in his book “Le Grand Remplacement,” purports that there is an organized conspiracy to replace whites with Black and immigrants.
“If (sic) said before that @GovRonDeSantis is a humorless, more openly fascist version of Trump,” Reid tweeted on Wednesday. “Here he is displaying the former quality in that for him, ‘humor’ means mocking Black Americans with his own, idiotic and offensive version of replacement theory. Black Floridians take note.”
DeSantis has been dubbed a Trump protégé after the former Republican president lobbied heavily for governor in his 2018 gubernatorial campaign. In return, DeSantis was a loyal fan of Trump’s policies during his political reign. Now, DeSantis is a runner-up to Trump in most polls looking of potential 2024 Republican candidates. GOP insiders say DeSantis seeks to step away from Trump’s shadow and stand on his own.
However, ABC contributor Yvette Simpson said DeSantis is a more unhinged version of the former president, known for his racist, sexist and xenophobic remarks.
“And we thought we couldn’t do worse than Donald Trump. They are saying the “racist part out loud” and laughing about it,” Simpson tweeted Wednesday. “No more white sheets—-it’s all out in the open now.”
DeSantis is not the first Republican to refer to Musk as African-American. A handful of Black conservatives have categorized him under the label commonly reserved for Black Americans, including Georgia congressional candidate Vernon Jones and conservative comedian Terrence K. Williams.
“Elon Musk is the first African American to own a large social media platform,” Williams tweeted in April, responding to reports of Musk’s plan to buy Twitter. “He is one of my favorite African Americans and it’s sad to see so many people on the left attacking him during this Historic moment.”