Marco Rubio has a message for University of Florida students and people thinking about attending white nationalist Richard Spencer’s speech: don’t.
In a series of tweets posted Wednesday, the Florida Republican senator urged Florida Gators to simply not show up to the event, which is scheduled for next week.
“Richard Spencer craves publicity,” Rubio tweeted to his three million followers Wednesday morning. “Desperate to incite outrage b/c terrified of @UF speech no one shows up for.”
Rubio then said he wasn’t telling people to turn a blind eye to Spencer, who has come under intense fire for his white supremacist beliefs.
“#GatorNation not asking u to ignore his racist message,” Rubio continued in a second tweet. “I am suggesting you embarrass him by denying him the attention he craves.”
Spencer has frequently pushed the belief of a “superior race” and has also advocated for the creation of the “creation of a White Ethno-State on the North American continent.”
Spencer also attended a gathering of "alt-right" white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va., this summer where a woman, Heather Heyer, was killed when a car slammed into a crowd of counter-protesters.
Spencer was originally slated to make his speech at the Gainesville-based university in September, but the event was cancelled amidst “serious concerns for safety” as part of the reason the university said “no” to Spencer coming on campus.
Spencer’s speaking engagement was later changed to Oct. 19 after the university was threatened with a lawsuit.
Rubio wasn’t the only person to tell students to skip out on Spencer’s lecture, though.
University President Kent Fuchs told Gators to pass on hearing Spencer speak on Tuesday.
“[Do] not provide Mr. Spencer and his followers the spotlight they are seeking. They are intending to attract crowds and provoke a reaction in order to draw the media,” Fuchs sent in an email to students. “By shunning him and his followers we will block his attempt for further visibility.”
UF officials have said the event will cost around $500,000 for security to cover the event, including costs for local law enforcement.
Fuchs said Spencer and UF simply don’t agree on the issues of race and respect.
“The values of our universities are not shared by Mr. Spencer, the National Policy Institute or his followers,” Fuchs wrote. “Our campuses are places where people from all races, origins and religions are valued equally, welcomed and treated with love, not hate. Our mission is to engage in the world's preeminent scholarship and education for the public good, not to sow lies, discord and violence.”
The university is charging Spencer’s group, the National Policy Center, $10,000 to rent out the Phillips Center for the speaking engagement.