Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Sunday refused to condemn a post that Elon Musk made on X endorsing an antisemitic tweet that alluded to a white supremacist conspiracy theory.

During an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” anchor Jake Tapper asked DeSantis whether he would condemn Musk’s post that he said “openly endorsed an antisemitic conspiracy theory that Jews are conspiring to replace white Americans with minority immigrants,” noting that major companies such as Apple and Disney pulled their ads from X in response to Musk’s endorsement.

“I did not see the comment,” DeSantis said. “I know that Elon has had a target on his back ever since he purchased Twitter, because I think he’s taking it in the direction that a lot of people who are used to controlling the narrative don’t like.”

“I was a big supporter of him purchasing Twitter,” he added. “I think they’re obviously still working some stuff out, but I did not see those comments.”

Tapper then read the post aloud, in which a user said he was “deeply disinterested in giving the tiniest s— now about western Jewish populations” realizing that “minorities that support flooding their country don’t exactly like them too much.”

The user claimed that Jewish people “have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them.”

Musk replied to the post, “You have said the actual truth.” He went on to target the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that fights antisemitism: “The ADL unjustly attacks the majority of the West, despite the majority of the West supporting the Jewish people and Israel. This is because they cannot, by their own tenets, criticize the minority groups who are their primary threat.”

The Tesla CEO’s comments drew comparisons to the “great replacement” theory, a racist conspiracy theory that Jewish people are conspiring to replace white people with minority groups.

“It’s a lot of condemnation for singling out a specific religious group during this time of rapidly rising antisemitism,” Tapper said, adding that “you have been very out front when you see antisemitism on the left. Is antisemitism on the right something that concerns you as well?”

“Across the board,” DeSantis said. “And, actually, I think, in the advent of these attacks, the amount of antisemitism that we have seen has really surprised me.”

DeSantis said he signed legislation in Florida that he characterized as an effort to combat antisemitism on college campuses — which has come under fire for its ban on pro-Palestinian student groups —before insisting that antisemitism is seen on “both sides.”

“The difference is that, on the left, that tends to be attached to some major institutional power, like some of our most august universities,” he said. “Whereas I think, on the right, it tends to be more fringe voices that are doing it.”

“But it’s wrong no matter what,” he added. “And I don’t think that we have seen antisemitism this bad in the world probably since the Second World War.”

Tapper later mentioned in the interview that he still hadn’t heard DeSantis condemn Musk’s post.

DeSantis again insisted that he hadn’t seen it.

“I know you tried to read it, I have no idea what the context is,” he said. “I know Elon Musk. I have never seen him do anything. I think he’s a guy that believes in America. I have never seen him indulge in any of that. So it’s surprising if that’s true, but I have not seen it. So I don’t want to sit there and pass judgment on the fly.”

Meanwhile, DeSantis’ fellow Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy on Saturday defended the tech mogul. Ramaswamy, a biotech entrepreneur who is friends with Musk, angrily derided the SpaceX CEO’s critics.

“Now they use the label of antisemitic if you say something that challenges the orthodoxy,” Ramaswamy said while drawing a comparison between the backlash against antisemitism and the social justice movement that swept the nation in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

“I think what they’re doing to him is ridiculous. I think it’s crazy to call him antisemitic,” he added.

When NBC News tried to ask him if he agreed with Musk’s antisemitic post, Ramaswamy interjected: “I think the reality is the woke infection from several years ago, which many left-leaning groups like the ADL, have supported, actually planted the seeds for the antisemitism we’re seeing today.”

Moments later, Ramaswamy, who has said he wants Musk as an adviser if he is elected president, said in a post to X that there have been “intentional distortions of Elon’s comments.”

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, another GOP presidential candidate, said he found Musk’s post to be among the “unacceptable” instances.

In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Christie condemned Musk’s post as one of the many “unacceptable” instances of antisemitism that has emerged amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

“We need to be speaking out against it no matter who does it, whether it’s Elon Musk, whether it’s professors on our college campuses where students that they are misleading, or whether it’s individuals who are speaking out in an antisemitic way on the streets of our cities,” he said.

The White House has condemned Musk’s post, saying it’s an “abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate” that “runs against our core values as Americans.”

Asked to respond to the ongoing backlash over Musk’s post, Twitter’s press email automatically replied: “Busy now, please check back later.”

Jews have experienced a significant increase in antisemitic incidents since Hamas launched its brutal attack on Israel on Oct. 7. There has been a 316% increase in antisemitic incidents in the U.S. compared to the same period in 2022, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Summer Concepcion

Summer Concepcion is a politics reporter for NBC News.

Alex Tabet

Alex Tabet is a 2024 NBC News campaign embed.

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