Florida Agricultural Commissioner and 2022 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried compared Gov. Ron DeSantis to Adolf Hitler in a recent interview.
In an appearance on NPR’s Friday Roundup Podcast, Fried was asked about having previously referred to the Republican governor an “authoritarian dictator” by co-host Melissa Ross, a reporter at WJCT in Jacksonville.
“He is doing everything possible to take power away from local governments, taking away people’s abilities to protest, making it harder to vote, talking about, you know, banning books,” Fried responded.
“That’s what dictators do. Instead of listening and trying to govern with the people, he is trying to govern over the people, and, you know, that, I’m sorry, I’m a student of history, too. I saw the rise of Hitler.”
Ross interrupted Fried and asked her if she was comparing DeSantis to Hitler.
“In a lot of ways, yes,” Fried replied. “I have studied Hitler and how he got to power, you know, wanting his own militia.”
She was referring to DeSantis’ intent to relaunch the Florida State Guard, a volunteer civilian military force, to support the Florida National Guard during emergencies. He has proposed $3.5 million in next year’s budget to start a force of 200 service members, his office said in December.
States have the constitutional power to create their own separate military forces. If enacted, Florida would become the 23rd state with its own force — which Fried acknowledged, but claimed the governor was doing so to “make fear.”
“Absolutely, but the reason why this governor wants it is different than the other states that have been utilizing it for emergency purposes,” Fried said.
“This governor is doing it for the sole purposes of power and doing so to make fear and to instill that, to blame people for what is happening in their lives, blaming certain parts of our society and culture, and that’s exactly what Hitler did to the Jews back during World War II.”
“Do I think that we’re going to get to the extent of Hitler’s power?” she later clarified during the interview, which covered a variety of topics. “Of course not.”
Fried said that DeSantis was “not fit to serve” earlier this month after Florida’s emergency management director admitted that hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 rapid test kits were left to expire as cases of the Omicron variant surged across the state. The governor said there was a lack of demand before the new variant spread.