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Ron DeSantis is “mean and hateful,” former Republican colleague warns


Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was accused on Sunday of having a “mean and hateful” streak by his former congressional GOP colleague, Will Hurd.

DeSantis and Hurd previously served together as Republican members of the House of Representatives. DeSantis represented Florida’s 6th District from 2013 to 2018 before winning the governorship, while Hurd represented Texas’s 23rd District from 2015 to 2021, opting not to seek reelection in the 2020 midterms. Hurd was notably the only African-American Republican in the House from 2019 to 2021, and one of the few GOP members to speak out against former President Donald Trump.

Both men are currently among the packed field seeking the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. DeSantis has typically polled in second place nationally, lagging significantly behind Trump’s reelection campaign, but still being one of the few candidates to consistently draw double-digit support. Hurd’s campaign, meanwhile, has been viewed as a longshot prospect, with a FiveThirtyEight polling average from Thursday giving him less than a single percentage point.

On Sunday, Hurd appeared on NBC News’ Meet the Press to discuss Florida’s recent change to its public school curriculum that was made by the state’s Department of Education (DOE). The changes concern the instruction of African-American history in public schools, with the new standards set to be introduced in the upcoming school year. They state that middle schoolers will be instructed about “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit,” according to a document from the DOE’s website. DeSantis has defended the change as an accurate reflection of history, but it has still faced widespread condemnation from many organizations and individuals who say it’s part of an effort to minimize the brutality of slavery.

will hurd desantis trend of hate
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is seen. The governor’s former congressional colleague Will Hurd on Sunday condemned him for what he called a “trend” of hateful conduct.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

During his appearance on Sunday, Hurd condemned the changes to Florida’s curriculum and said that they fit a mean and hateful pattern he has seen from his former congressional colleague.

“I was the first Republican to come out and say that slavery is not a jobs program, and anybody that is implying that there is an upside to slavery is insane,” Hurd said. “And what is even more shocking to me is that everybody has come out [to support the changes], Ron DeSantis’s Department of Education doubled down on this, Ron DeSantis has doubled down on this multiple times…and then he wants to blame the people that wrote this and say, ‘I wasn’t the one who wrote this.’…This is one more part of a back pattern of Ron DeSantis being mean and hateful.”

During a press conference earlier this month, the Florida governor defended the new curriculum standards by saying, “I didn’t do it, and I wasn’t involved in it.”

Newsweek reached out to the DeSantis campaign via email for comment.

When pressed by host Chuck Todd about whether or not the defense of the curriculum changes should be disqualifying for DeSantis, Hurd said that it would be hard to imagine encouraging “folks in Black and brown communities” to support him if he were to win the GOP nomination. The former congressman also highlighted the governor’s “hateful rhetoric” towards the LGBTQ+ community and his campaign’s hiring of a staffer with known antisemitic tendencies.

“This is a trend,” Hurd said. “One is an exception, three is a trend, and this a big problem.”


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