The GOP is welcoming diversity.
Speaking at a press conference in Madeira Beach, Fla., on Wednesday, Ron DeSantis was asked about a tweet billionaire Elon Musk posted in which the entrepreneur said he’s leaning toward voting for the Florida governor if he runs for president in 2024.
DeSantis, whose name is frequently bandied about as a presidential contender, said he’s more focused on the gubernatorial election in 2022, but seemed to appreciate the gesture.
“With Elon Musk, what I would say, is I welcome support from African Americans, what can I say?” the conservative leader replied.
Musk was born in a segregated South African suburb during the apartheid era and moved to Canada, then the U.S., to continue his education at the University of Pennsylvania.
The 2021 U.S. Census defines “Black or African American” as “a person having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa.”
DeSantis’ creative licensing of the term drew chuckles from his audience Wednesday. Musk declared his interest in a DeSantis’ run for the White House Wednesday after announcing on Twitter “I voted for Mayra Flores – first time I ever voted Republican.”
Flores won her special election bid for the U.S. House of Representatives in Texas this week.
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New York’s 16th congressional district Rep. Jamaal Bowman dismissed Musk as “just another Republican billionaire who supports white supremacy and authoritarianism” on Twitter following his support for Flores. Musk said in May he used to vote for Democrats because “they were (mostly) the kindness party.”
The Republican Party’s position on racial issues came under heavy fire during the Trump Administration, particularly when the former president showed reluctance to denounce hate groups whose support he enjoyed. Trump has also been criticized for attempting to overturn races he lost in areas with large Black populations.
In 2018, Democrats took the House by fielding the most diverse class of freshmen in congressional history, according to Axios. GOP minority leader Kevin McCarthy seemed to recognize that reality when he responded by saying “When you look ahead 20 years from now, our party will have to match what the country looks like.”
Trump-backed congressional candidate Vernon Jordan — a Black Republican running for Congress in Georgia — congratulated his “African-American brother” Musk on casting a GOP vote Tuesday.
“We’re growing the party every single day,” he tweeted.
Trump predicted in December that “I do think if I run, he won’t” with regards to a DeSantis presidential bid in 2024.