Florida's GOP gubernatorial nominee says a vote for his black opponent would 'monkey this up'

Fresh off his victory in the Florida Republican gubernatorial primary, Rep. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday that...

Posted: Aug 30, 2018 10:37 AM
Updated: Aug 30, 2018 10:37 AM

Fresh off his victory in the Florida Republican gubernatorial primary, Rep. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday that voters would "monkey this up" if they elected his African-American Democratic opponent, Andrew Gillum, to be governor, immediately drawing accusations of racism.

The remark provides a controversial beginning to what will be a closely watched general election campaign for the Florida governorship, which pits DeSantis, who has closely aligned himself with President Donald Trump, against Gillum, a progressive backed by independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

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Calling Gillum "an articulate spokesman" for the far left, DeSantis said during an interview on Fox News when asked about his opponent, "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."

Gillum would become the state's first black governor if he were to win in November.

"Well, I'll try to be articulate, Chris," Gillum told Chris Cuomo on CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time," "and simply say that that kind of vitriol -- and he's apparently given up the whistle, they've gone to the bullhorn with these kinds of tactics -- but they're not going to work."

Gillum earlier had told Fox News' Shepard Smith, "It's very clear that Mr. DeSantis is taking a page directly from the campaign manual of Donald Trump."

"Was that racist or a figment of speech?" Smith asked, referring to DeSantis' comment.

Gillum didn't answer the specific question, instead responding, "I'm not going to get down in the gutter with DeSantis and Trump. There's enough of that going on."

But Democratic groups quickly accused DeSantis of using racist dog whistles, which DeSantis' campaign denied.

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

"On the first day of the general election, Ron DeSantis showed Floridians who he really is," Democratic Governors Association Deputy Communications Director David Turner said. "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."

A spokeswoman for Fox News reached out to CNN early Wednesday afternoon to distance the network from DeSantis' remark, pointing to a statement made by anchor Sandra Smith on air in which she said, "We do not condone this language and wanted to make our viewers aware that he has since clarified his statement."

Stephen Lawson, the communications director for the DeSantis campaign, said he was referring to Gillum's policies in making the remark.

"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."

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that Fox News anchor Sandra Smith read a statement reacting to DeSantis' remark on air.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319704

Reported Deaths: 7369
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22276267
Hinds20677421
Harrison18407317
Rankin13880282
Jackson13689248
Madison10249224
Lee10056176
Jones8464167
Forrest7827153
Lauderdale7260242
Lowndes6509150
Lamar634888
Lafayette6310121
Washington5420137
Bolivar4837133
Panola4669110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4604147
Marshall4573105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425373
Union415777
Monroe4155135
Neshoba4061179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386687
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3369111
Alcorn325972
Scott320174
Yazoo314171
Adams307486
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298189
Tippah291968
Prentiss283861
Leake271974
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George252051
Newton248663
Tishomingo231568
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190374
Clay187854
Stone187833
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135347
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127138
Amite126342
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108033
Tunica108027
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69532
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548323

Reported Deaths: 11288
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809531565
Mobile42066826
Madison35663525
Tuscaloosa26162458
Shelby25595254
Montgomery25081612
Baldwin21839313
Lee16265176
Calhoun14718325
Morgan14626285
Etowah14171363
Marshall12449230
Houston10764288
Elmore10295213
Limestone10182157
St. Clair10160251
Cullman9941201
Lauderdale9596249
DeKalb8967189
Talladega8458184
Walker7335280
Autauga7230113
Blount6944139
Jackson6922113
Colbert6414140
Coffee5627127
Dale4929114
Russell454941
Chilton4472116
Franklin431083
Covington4273122
Tallapoosa4136155
Escambia401780
Chambers3726124
Dallas3607156
Clarke352961
Marion3242106
Pike314078
Lawrence3129100
Winston283572
Bibb268464
Geneva257581
Marengo250665
Pickens236862
Barbour234659
Hale226878
Butler224071
Fayette218162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph187044
Monroe179341
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155657
Cleburne153244
Lamar146537
Lowndes142054
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113430
Coosa111429
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93534
Choctaw62025
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