Hours after winning the Republican nomination for Florida governor on a “Pitbull Trump Defender” platform, Rep. Ron DeSantis used racially charged language in a Fox News interview to attack his Democratic opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.
Asked how he would defeat Gillum, DeSantis first conceded that his opponent is an “articulate spokesman for the far left views and a charismatic candidate.” He then warned that Florida has been going in a good direction and “the last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by” embracing Gillum’s “socialist agenda.”
A DeSantis spokesperson told NBC News on Wednesday that the congressman “frequently” uses that term to express something messed up and claimed it “had nothing to do with race or anything like that.”
But this is not the first time DeSantis has behaved in a manner that might lead non-white Floridians to wonder if perhaps he views them as equal. Last month, he attacked New York Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the daughter of a Puerto Rico-born mother, as “this girl, Ocasio-Cortez or whatever she is.” Earlier this year, he came under fire for attending a conference hosted by David Horowitz Freedom Center with far-right attendees like Sebastian Gorka, Steve Bannon, and Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes. His campaign ads featured him teaching his child to “build the wall” with toy blocks. And David Bossie, a member of DeSantis’ national finance team and a Trump surrogate, was suspended from Fox News for asking a black Democratic strategist if he is “out of his cotton-picking mind.”