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A Florida Republican Is Facing Backlash After He Said That A Vote For His Black Opponent Would 'Monkey This Up'

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Ron DeSantis, the Republican nominee in Florida's governor race, is being accused of racism after he said on Wednesday that voters would "monkey this up" if they elected his black opponent, Andrew Gillum, in November.

The Florida Rep. made the comment in an interview on Fox News, following his victory in Tuesday's primary. DeSantis also called Gillum "articulate," which is often seen as a backhanded compliment for people of color. 

"This is a guy who, although he’s much too liberal for Florida — I think he’s got huge problems with how he’s governed Tallahassee — you know, he is an articulate spokesman for those far-left views, and he’s a charismatic candidate," DeSantis told Fox News host Sandra Smith.

He continued, "The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state. That is not gonna work. That’s not gonna be good for Florida."

Smith initially ignored DeSantis' remarks; however, she soon issued an on-air statement that said, "We do not condone this language and wanted to make our viewers aware that he has since clarified his statement."

According to Stephen Lawson, the communications director for the DeSantis campaign, DeSantis wasn't being racist — he was referring to Gillum's policies, CNN reported.

"Ron DeSantis was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses. To characterize it as anything else is absurd," Lawson said. "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."

People were still outraged at DeSantis, though. Gillum responded while also appearing on Fox News in conversation with Smith. "It's very clear that Mr. DeSantis is taking a page directly from the campaign manual of Donald Trump," Gillum said.

Smith responded by asking Gillum if DeSantis' comment was "racist or a figment of speech." The Democratic nominee didn't specifically answer the question, but instead said, "I'm not going to get down in the gutter with DeSantis and Trump. There's enough of that going on."

Certain Democratic groups were more vocal about their disdain for what DeSantis said. 

"It's disgusting that Ron DeSantis is launching his general election campaign with racist dog whistles," Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo said.

"On the first day of the general election, Ron DeSantis showed Floridians who he really is,"said Democratic Governors Association Deputy Communications Director David Turner. "Resorting to dog whistle politics within hours of winning the GOP nomination shows a desperate candidate who will stoop to new lows in order to court and give voice to fringe elements of society. Floridians want a leader who will bring them together; Ron DeSantis has shown that he would only divide Florida."

President Trump has been a staunch supporter of DeSantis, and even praised him on Wednesday after the controversial interview. 


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