Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R-Fla.) team 2024 confirmed on Tuesday that staffer Nate Hochman was no longer with the campaign. The report comes after Hochman retweeted a video that featured DeSantis’ face in a Nazi symbol.
The campaign later revealed that Hochman created the video, then distributed it to an unaffiliated Twitter account in an attempt to launder the video into the mainstream.
Hochman’s dismissal came amid a larger shakeup on Team DeSantis, with reports saying the campaign let at least a third of its staffers go.
While there’s no proof that Hochman was fired because of the video (although it’s safe for one to assume), people are nonetheless rising to Hochman’s defense, claiming it was clearly an innocent mistake.
The video used a sonnenrad, which is a lesser-known symbol of the Third Reich. While obscure, the symbol has become prominent in far-right circles.
And there’s no doubt that Hochman was ingrained in far-right circles. Prior to joining the DeSantis team, he praised Nick Fuentes, one of the nation’s most avowed pro-Hitler voices. Fuentes has repeatedly denied the Holocaust and shared his support for Nazi Germany.
That Hochman might be unaware he was a fan of a Nazi sympathizer and also might make a Nazi video unintentionally, just two mere Hitler-adjacent coincidences, seems dubious at best.
Still, people on the right are jumping to his defense.
Inez Stepman, a writer for the Federalist, tweeted that Hochman said is “obviously not a Nazi.”
“Nate aside, I’m not going to participate in any of these stupid pearl-clutching 2 mins hate moments on the right,” she wrote. “Wake me up when nazis have 1/100th of the power of a woke gaggle of undergrads in America.”
While it’s true the Nazi movement may not be as prevalent in America as progressives, there’s no doubt it has nascent strains in the American far-right, especially given how many of them seem to crack Holocaust jokes.
“I don’t spend hours a day looking up Nazi propaganda. I guarantee most people don’t. I know Nate Hochman, he’s not a Nazi. Trying to frame him as one is a lie,” he wrote. “He’s a stupid zoomer who thought it was a hype video.”
There’s no denying the fascist aesthetic of the video, though, which included troops marching in lockstep toward an image of DeSantis.
Another, who also said they knew Hochman, added by associating with a Nazi sympathizer and putting out Nazi-adjacent propaganda, he was actually keeping young men away from fascism.
“His whole project has been to draw young right-wing men alienated by the stupidity of our politics *away* from the dark side. Cancelling him doesn’t make that problem go away,” wrote Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, which has been accused by the Southern Poverty Law Center of harboring racist writers and thinkers.
Another conservative writer, Rod Dreher, said that he spoke to Hochman, who swore he wasn’t a Nazi.
Dreher, though, said he found it difficult to accept.
“Nate Hochman swears up and down to me that he had no idea that the Sonnenrad was a Nazi symbol. I told him I want to believe him, but it’s very, very difficult to accept that someone of his generation who is as smart as he is really didn’t know that very familiar Nazi image,” Dreher tweeted.
Hochman, for his part, has not publicly commented on the incident.