Florida GOP candidate DeSantis under fire for 'monkey this up' remark

Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who was endorsed by President Donald Trump, will face Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a progressive Democrat, in the November election.
Caption
Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who was endorsed by President Donald Trump, will face Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a progressive Democrat, in the November election.

Credit: Phelan M. Ebenhack and Steve Cannon / Associated Press

Credit: Phelan M. Ebenhack and Steve Cannon / Associated Press

Hours after Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis cruised to an easy win in the race to become his party's nominee for Florida governor, he found himself facing criticism for one of his remarks.

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DeSantis, who was endorsed by President Donald Trump, will face Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a progressive Democrat, in the November election. According to CNN, Gillum, who was endorsed by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is Florida's first African-American gubernatorial nominee.

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DeSantis spoke about his opponent in a Fox News interview Wednesday.

"He is an articulate spokesman for those far-left views, and he's a charismatic candidate," DeSantis said. "You know, I watched those Democrat debates. None of that was my cup of tea, but, I mean, he performed better than the other people there. So we've got to work hard to make sure that we continue Florida going in a good direction. Let's build off the success that we've had on Gov. [Rick] Scott. The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda."

>> See the clip here

Some slammed DeSantis' word choice, saying his "monkey this up" comment had racial undertones.

Gillum accused DeSantis of "taking a page directly from the campaign manual of Donald Trump."

"But I think he's got another thing coming to him if he thinks that in today's day and age ... Florida voters are going to respond to that level of derision and division," Gillum told Fox News. "They're sick of it."

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A spokesman for DeSantis issued a clarification to Fox News on Wednesday afternoon:

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

Read more here.