A white supremacist was allegedly attacked while handing out fliers for Sen. Marco Rubio's reelection campaign.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Monday tweeted out images of a person in a hospital bed that he said was a campaign volunteer who had been "brutally attacked by 4 animals who told him Republicans weren't allowed in their neighborhood."
But since Rubio sent the tweet, the story has fallen apart. Later on Monday, police said there was no evidence of a political motivation for the attack, and the victim abruptly reneged on an offer he had made to speak with reporters.
A police report obtained by the Miami New Times confirms that a man was assaulted Sunday night in Hialeah, Florida, a heavily Republican city in Miami-Dade county.
According to the report, the alleged attacker told the victim that he "could not pass through the sidewalk in front of his residence," but does not mention anything about politics.
A spokesperson for Rubio, who is running for reelection to the Senate in November against Democratic nominee Val Demings, did not respond to a request for comment about why Rubio made the claim or whether he had any information that hadn't yet been made public about the incident.
The victim has been identified as Christopher Monzon, a white supremacist who attended the deadly "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017. Video and photos from that rally show Monzon wearing a helmet and a shirt with the logo of the League Of The South, a white supremacist group known for its racism and antisemitism. Videos show Monzon saying "they will not replace us," which the Anti-Defamation League says is an antisemitic phrase that refers to Jews.
He served probation for attacking protesters with a Confederate flag in Hollywood, Florida, later that month. A video posted to Twitter shows police arresting Monzon after the incident, at which he was protesting the possible change of the names of streets in Hollywood that were named after Confederate figures.
Monzon agreed to talk to reporters about the incident on Monday but then canceled the event, at the hospital where he'd been admitted, CBS News Miami reported.
Known in the past as the "Cuban Confederate," Monzon is active in Florida Republican politics. In 2021, he ran unsuccessfully for a city council seat in Hialeah. He says now that he has left the League of the South and told the New York Times in June 2022 that he had been on a "path to de-radicalization."
Democratic state Rep. Anna V. Eskamani tweeted about Monzon's past, "Awful, and this — along w/the police report — definitely leads to questions about the Senator's original post and should 100% be investigated."
In the past, Rubio has cheered on politically motivated intimidation. In 2020, when a caravan of vehicles containing supporters of former President Donald Trump surrounded a Joe Biden campaign bus and tried to run it off the road, Rubio applauded: "I saw yesterday a video of these people in Texas," Rubio said. "Did you see it? All the cars on the road, we love what they did."
Republicans have made crime an issue in the 2022 midterms, hoping it would hurt Democrats currently in office.
Rubio's campaign has run ads about Demings that falsely accuse her of supporting "abolishing the police." Demings, a former chief of the Orlando Police Department, told NPR host Audie Cornish in 2020: "I would do everything within my power to make sure that [defunding of police departments] does not happen. What I know from my on-the-ground experience is that all communities want to be safe. If resources are taken away from police departments, the most vulnerable communities would be disproportionately impacted yet again."
With two weeks until the election, polls show Rubio with a nearly 5-point lead over Demings in the race. Inside Elections, the nonpartisan political handicapping outlet, rates the race a "Likely Republican" contest.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.