Andrew Gillum on DeSantis: 'The racists believe he's a racist'

The Florida governor's race took another sharp twist on Wednesday when Democrat Andrew Gillum said of his op...

Posted: Oct 25, 2018 10:08 AM
Updated: Oct 25, 2018 10:08 AM

The Florida governor's race took another sharp twist on Wednesday when Democrat Andrew Gillum said of his opponent, Republican Ron DeSantis, during a debate that "racists believe he's racist."

Gillum, who would be the state's first black governor if elected, made the comment while discussing DeSantis' decision to speak at conferences hosted by David Horowitz, an anti-Muslim conservative political activist.

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"My grandmother used to say, 'A hit dog will holler,' and it hollered through this room," Gillum said after DeSantis loudly rejected any common cause with Horowitz.

"First of all, he's got neo-Nazis helping him out in this state," he continued, referring to a white supremacist group that is running racist robo-calls against Gillum in the state (DeSantis' campaign has disavowed the calls).

"Now, I'm not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist, I'm simply saying the racists believe he's a racist," Gillum said.

When debate moderator Todd McDermott brought up Horowitz to DeSantis in the previous question, the former Republican congressman interrupted him -- no question was ever posed aloud -- to suggest he was unaware of the provocateur's racist past.

"How the hell am I supposed to know every single statement someone makes?" DeSantis said, before pivoting to an attack on the press, declaring, "I am not going to bow down to the altar of media correctness."

Race has been a defining issue of the campaign since the very beginning of the general election, when DeSantis went on Fox News to warn Florida voters not to "monkey this up" and back Gillum. He has denied the remark was a reference to Gillum's race. Recent polling shows Gillum with a double digit lead over the former Republican congressman, despite the shadows cast by a probe into potential public corruption in Tallahassee, where he serves as mayor.

DeSantis had started off the debate by accusing Gillum of lying about the source of a high-priced theater ticket given to him by an undercover FBI agent back in 2016, a point of contention within the broader scope of a federal corruption investigation that has dogged Gillum, despite his insistence that the FBI told him he was not a target.

Gillum said again on Wednesday that his brother, Marcus Gillum, gave him the ticket but also acknowledged what had become clear earlier in the week, when former Florida lobbyist and longtime friend Adam Corey turned over about 150 pages of text messages and emails under subpoena from the state ethics commission.

"I was aware that Adam Corey and (an agent known as) Mike Miller arranged so that we could go and see the show. I arrived at the theater and received my ticket from my brother," Gillum said. "The problem that I have is that I should have asked more questions to make sure that everything that had transpired was above board."

Gillum pushed back in part by challenging DeSantis to release records detailing the more than $145,000 in taxpayer funds the Republican reportedly spent on travel during his time in the House. And in an email statement, the Florida Democratic Party, citing the Naples Daily News, called DeSantis's decision to withhold the information "a stunning failure to be transparent with Floridians -- that's made even worse by the fact that that some of the travel was used to fund two trips to New York City to appear on Fox New and boost his public profile."

Like he did during the pair's first meeting on CNN Sunday night, Gillum also sought to turn the issue around on DeSantis by pointing to what he described as Republicans' shoddy treatment of the FBI on Capitol Hill.

As for his own dealings, Gillum said he understood that his brother gave Corey and Miller tickets to see Jay-Z and Beyonce, which he believed "solved whatever the issue was with regard to the expenses associated with it."

The Tallahassee mayor took responsibility for "not having asked more questions" about the exchange, but then tried to downplay the issue in the context of the race: "I'm running for governor and the state of Florida, we got a lot of issues," he said. "In fact, we got 99 issues and Hamilton ain't one of them."

DeSantis argued that Gillum's explanations didn't make sense -- and suggested the corruption probe was hitting closer to home than Gillum cared to admit.

"Think about what he wants you to believe," DeSantis said. "He wants you to believe that he is not under investigation. Why would an undercover FBI agent posing as a contractor give him a thousand dollar ticket to Hamilton?"

The Republican former congressman also recalled Gillum's remarks from a few nights earlier.

"He was asked a question by me, 'Did you pay for it?' He was indignant. He said I'm a grown man, I pay for my stuff," DeSantis said. "He lied the other day. The text messages show he knew it came from Mike Miller, who he didn't know was an undercover FBI agent at the time. But now we know that."

The text messages between Corey and Gillum, released after being subpoenaed by the state ethics commission, are the latest development in connection with a federal investigation into public corruption in Tallahassee.

In a message from August 8, 2016 -- only made public this week -- Corey texts Gillum saying, "Mike Miller and the crew have tickets for us for Hamilton tonight at 8pm," then asks if Gillum can join them and notes: "I think your brother has already arrived by the way."

Gillum's campaign pushed back on Tuesday against any implication that he had misled the public, saying that his brother, the previously named source of the ticket, was part of the "crew" cited in the text.

"These records vindicate and add more evidence that at every turn I was paying my own way or was with my family, for all trips, including picking up tickets from my brother, Marcus, who was with a group of his own friends," Gillum said in a statement released by the campaign.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 266598

Reported Deaths: 5852
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17807191
Hinds16967332
Harrison14298204
Rankin11280221
Jackson10976190
Lee9088145
Madison8619169
Jones6782118
Forrest6236124
Lauderdale6128192
Lowndes5564120
Lafayette5229101
Lamar507465
Washington4951125
Bolivar4149109
Oktibbeha409482
Panola388281
Pontotoc378560
Warren3698103
Monroe3693110
Marshall358570
Union357764
Pearl River3508106
Neshoba3499154
Leflore3122109
Lincoln307688
Hancock296362
Sunflower293075
Tate281162
Alcorn273554
Pike271081
Itawamba270063
Scott260849
Yazoo257156
Prentiss254554
Coahoma251555
Copiah250749
Tippah250150
Simpson243872
Leake238467
Marion225973
Grenada224272
Covington222473
Adams215371
Wayne215034
Winston207771
George204839
Newton200046
Attala197464
Tishomingo195661
Chickasaw189644
Jasper182538
Holmes172268
Clay167537
Tallahatchie157535
Stone152925
Clarke148662
Calhoun141822
Smith130726
Yalobusha123835
Walthall115037
Greene114529
Noxubee114126
Montgomery112736
Lawrence107617
Carroll106922
Perry105331
Amite102426
Webster97424
Claiborne89725
Tunica89321
Jefferson Davis88930
Benton86523
Humphreys84824
Kemper81020
Quitman7149
Franklin70717
Choctaw63813
Wilkinson59925
Jefferson57121
Sharkey45717
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 443009

Reported Deaths: 6662
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson649101007
Mobile31746574
Madison28413217
Tuscaloosa21566275
Montgomery20088332
Shelby19452132
Baldwin17333189
Lee13261107
Morgan12678142
Etowah12141181
Calhoun11555206
Marshall10487123
Houston9031164
Limestone838181
Cullman8296124
Elmore8243110
Lauderdale7946107
DeKalb7900107
St. Clair7876130
Talladega6523112
Walker6050183
Jackson603245
Colbert558194
Blount548586
Autauga540762
Coffee466964
Dale412785
Franklin377550
Russell358415
Chilton346873
Covington340880
Escambia339244
Tallapoosa3163109
Dallas313696
Chambers305470
Clarke303336
Pike265231
Lawrence255855
Marion254661
Winston234742
Bibb222948
Geneva213047
Marengo210531
Pickens200431
Hale186144
Barbour183438
Fayette178829
Butler174860
Cherokee166031
Henry160025
Monroe152621
Randolph146636
Washington142727
Clay130746
Crenshaw124845
Macon122837
Cleburne122125
Lamar120622
Lowndes116836
Wilcox108322
Bullock104628
Perry100518
Conecuh98022
Sumter90627
Greene77923
Coosa64018
Choctaw52124
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