DeSantis draws ire over fundraising shirt that promotes 'extra-judicial executions'

DeSantis draws ire over fundraising shirt that promotes 'extra-judicial executions'
EAGLE PASS, TEXAS - JUNE 26: Republican presidential candidate, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference on the banks of the Rio Grande on June 26, 2023 in Eagle Pass, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images).

Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is using violent remarks he made last month during the GOP presidential debate in an attempt to advance his White House run, but critics are expressing concern.

“The cartels are killing tens of thousands of our fellow citizens,” DeSantis claimed. “We have to defend our people. We’re going to use force and we’re going to leave them stone cold dead, no excuses. We will get the job done.”

Those words now appear in a political ad (below) from the pro-DeSantis Super PAC, Never Back Down, as well as on a $35 “Stone Cold Dead Black 100% Cotton T-Shirt” sold by the DeSantis campaign. The new ad is “part of an almost $12 million ad buy the group is doing ahead of the early primary states. The ad includes video of DeSantis’ immigration talking points from the debate, where he called for military action in Mexico to target drug cartels,” City & State Florida reports.

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ABC affiliate WMUR reports the new ad is “highlighting the governor’s proposal to kill people carrying drugs into the US to cross the southern border.”

The ad itself delivers a bit of a different message.

The PAC included in its ad a comment from Fox News’ Bill Melugin, who says that DeSantis “intends to allow for deadly force to be used against anybody cutting through the border wall.”

“Analysts say the ad is another instance of DeSantis running to the right of Trump on a key GOP primary issue,” WMUR reports, while warning, “activists like Sebastian Fuentes say the ad sounds to him like open season on undocumented immigrants.”

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“How do we know people are crossing the border are bad people?” Fuentes asked WMUR. “They know that’s pretty much telling not just law enforcement, but also the local folks in the southern areas that if you see somebody, hey, guess what you can you can go ahead and harm them.”

DeSantis told the news station, “it’s not just willy nilly going after anybody you know who shows up. It’s identifying people as representing either a hostile, committing hostile acts or demonstrating hostile intent.”

Asked, “How do you ensure you’re not killing innocent people or, say, asylum seekers who are not carrying drugs?” DeSantis responded, “Same way you would do on anything that we do. Same way a police officer isn’t just shooting random civilians.”

But critics are blasting DeSantis, and his PAC, for doubling down on his violent rhetoric, a charge he has repeatedly ignored.

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In late July, DeSantis pledged to root out the deep state from the federal government, and vowed, “we are going to start slitting throats on Day One,” he told supporters. That same month the Florida governor told the right wing website Real America’s Voice that he would not promote a current military officer to become Secretary of Defense – not because he believes in a civilian-run military, but because he wants his Defense Secretary to “slit some throats.”

DeSantis has also used the “stone cold dead” threat several times before he used it in a nationally-televised prime time presidential debate.

“If they’re trying to bring fentanyl into our communities that’s going to be the last thing they do because at the border they’re going to be shot stone-cold dead,” he told New Hampshire voters in late July.

Law professor and political scientist Anthony Michael Kreis, commenting on DeSantis’ “stone old dead” remark after the governor used it yet another time, in August stated: “Extra-judicial executions are just murder by another name.”

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Former CNN and CNBC journalist John Harwood, responding to news of the new DeSantis ad, on Friday wrote: “Republican candidate for president campaigning on summary extra-judicial executions.”

Marketing strategist and Obama campaign alum Jason Karsh warned: “A Republican candidate for president explicitly calling for extrajudicial killings. The implication is it’s just gonna be brown people, but once you start summarily executing people, who’s to say where it stops, especially when this guy has so many perceived enemies.”

Former Lincoln Project Executive Director Fred Wellman called it, “Fascism and international crime as policy.”

MSNBC anchor Medhi Hasan added, “This is what authoritarianism looks and sounds like.”

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Watch the full 30-second DeSantis ad from Never Back Down below or at this link.

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