Republican candidate Ron DeSantis’ general-election campaign for governor of Florida got off to an abysmal start Wednesday morning when he went on Fox News and warned voters not to “monkey this up” by electing his Democratic opponent, Andrew Gillum, who would be the first African American to lead the state.
DeSantis, who has the strong backing of President Donald Trump, called Gillum “much too liberal Florida” and an “articulate spokesman for those far-left views.”
“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,” he continued. “That’s not going to work, that’s not going to be good for Florida.”
A DeSantis spokesperson told NBC News that he “frequently” uses the phrase and that it “had nothing to do with race or anything like that.” But unless DeSantis completely missed the controversy over Roseanne Barr comparing Valerie Jarrett to The Planet of the Apes, it will be hard to deny any knowledge of this centuries-old slur.
Not long ago, Fox News suspended former Trump aide David Bossie from appearing on the network after he shouted at a black Democratic strategist: “You’re out of your cotton-picking mind.”
Following the segment, America’s Newsroom host Sandra Smith noted that DeSantis “made what some are calling an inappropriate comment about his democratic opponent, Andrew Gillum.”
After reading the explanation from DeSantis’ spokesperson, she added, “We do not condone this language and wanted to make our viewers aware that he has since clarified his statement.”
Gillum later appeared on Fox News—of all places—with hard-news anchor Shepard Smith, who asked him about DeSantis’ words.
“It’s very clear that Mr. DeSantis is taking a page directly from the campaign manual of Donald Trump,” the Democratic candidate said. “In the handbook of Donald Trump, they no longer do whistle calls. They are now using full bullhorns.”
He continued: “I’m not going to get down in the gutter with DeSantis and Trump.”