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He Told Florida Not to 'Monkey This Up.' Here's the Aftermath

Ron DeSantis accused of racism, as rival Democratic Andrew Gillum is black
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2018 8:33 AM CDT
Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis, right, speaks to supporters with his wife, Casey, at an election party after winning the Republican primary, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018, in Orlando,...   (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

(Newser) – For the very early part of the morning, the headlines focused on the possibility that Florida could get its first black governor thanks to Tuesday's primary results; for the latter part of Wednesday, they focused on three words Andrew Gillum's Republican opponent had to say. In an interview with Fox News, Ron DeSantis said this (video here): "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 going to work, that is not going to be good for Florida." Cries of racism ensued. Five reactions:

  • Florida Democratic Party chair Terrie Rizzo told the Tallahassee Democrat "it's disgusting that Ron DeSantis is launching his general election campaign with racist dog whistles."
  • NBC News political reporter Ali Vitali tweeted this: "DeSantis' spox tells me this is something the congressman says 'frequently' to express something that was messed up or not done right. Spox says it 'had nothing to do with race or anything like that' but just talking about the situation in Florida."

  • Slate reports the Fox News host DeSantis was speaking to, Sandra Smith, had this to say in a later segment: "A little while ago, we had Ron DeSantis ... on for an interview to discuss the Florida election. During the interview, he made what some are calling an inappropriate comment about his democratic opponent, Andrew Gillum. We do not condone this language and wanted to make our viewers aware that he has since clarified his statement."
  • Gillum spoke to MSNBC on Wednesday and said it's "clear" DeSantis "is going to join Donald Trump in the swamp. We're going to leave them there, and we continue to press toward a higher mark."
  • Fox News Insider reports DeSantis himself addressed the controversy Wednesday night on Hannity, saying "It has zero to do with race" and everything to do with socialism. He said a vote for Gillum would make Florida take a "turn to left-wing socialist policies that will absolutely devastate this state" and are "not good for any race, color, or creed."
(Read more Florida stories.)

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