Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis’ camp said Wednesday it’s “absurd” to label as racist his remark that Floridians shouldn’t “monkey this up” by voting for his black Democrat rival for governor.
“Ron DeSantis was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses,” Stephen Lawson, the communications director for the DeSantis campaign, said in an email, reported Fox News’ Sandra Smith, whose interviewwith DeSantis earlier on “America’s Newsroom” produced the comment about Gillum, who is mayor of Tallahassee.
“To characterize it as anything else is absurd… Florida’s economy has been on the move for the last eight years and the last thing we need is a far left Democrat trying to stop our success,” the statement continued.
Smith pointed out, while reading the statement, that Fox News does “not condone this language and wanted to make our viewers aware that he has since clarified his statement.”
On the program, DeSantis told Smith that “the last thing we need to do is monkey this up” by embracing Gillum’s “Socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.”
Florida’s Democratic Party responded quickly, reports The Tallahassee Democrat.
“It’s disgusting that Ron DeSantis is launching his general election campaign with racist dog whistles,” FDP Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo said.
Gillum spokesman Geoff Burgan said the campaign would let the party respond, rather than issuing a statement itself, as “DeSantis’ comments speak for themselves.”
Burgan did, however, add a dig at DeSantis, reports NBC News.
“As we say in Tallahassee, bless his heart,” he commented.
The comment also met with outrage on Twitter, with the phrase “monkey this up” quickly trending.
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