The Florida chapter of the Anti-Defamation League rebuked Nikki Fried, the state's Democratic Agricultural Commissioner and a candidate for governor, after she compared her would-be Republican rival Gov. Ron DeSantis to Hitler.
In a social media post, the Florida Anti-Defamation League said Fried's comments were "offensive."
"While public officials may have disagreements over policies, comparisons to the Holocaust and Nazism are inappropriate, offensive, and trivialize this unique tragedy in human history," ADL Florida said.
"It's vital for all public officials to challenge each other based on the substance and merits of the issue at hand and not invoke comparisons to Hitler or Naizism. We will be reaching out to [Nikki Fried] to discuss our concerns," the group added.
The rebuke comes after Fried likened DeSantis to a "dictator" on a radio talk show last week. She accused the governor of "doing everything possible to take away power from local governments, taking away people's abilities to protest, making it harder to vote, talking about ... banning books."
"I'm sorry. I'm a student of history too. I saw the rise of Hitler," Fried said on NPR's Florida Roundup.
Her comments startled the host, who asked her to clarify what she meant.
"Are you comparing DeSantis to Hitler?" the host asked.
"In a lot of ways, yes," Fried doubled down.
She cited DeSantis' proposal to revive the Florida State Guard, just like 22 other states, as an example of how he supposedly is an authoritarian acting "for the sole purposes of his power."
"Do I think that we're going to get to the extent of Hitler's power? Of course not," Fried said after the host mentioned that some people might find her comments offensive. "But the rise of his power and what he did to scapegoat certain parts, especially the Jewish community in Germany, and how he utilized going after the media, going after and scapegoating people ... that's what this governor is doing."
After the interview, DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw slammed Fried and said her take was "as offensive as it is absurd."
"With this hysterical comparison, Fried not only smears millions of Floridians as Nazis, but also trivializes Hitler's crimes against humanity," Pushaw said.
But on Twitter Sunday Fried was unrepentant.
"Ron DeSantis and his anti-democratic demagoguery is a danger to our state, our country, and yes, the world," she wrote. "Choose your own historical example if you want, but it's the damn truth."
It should be noted that "demagoguery" is defined as "political activity or practices that seek support by appealing to the desires and prejudices of ordinary people rather than by using rational argument." An example may be comparing your political opponent to Hitler or Nazism to stir up voter prejudices instead of making a rational argument against his policies.