During a Fox News interview on Saturday, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) — the Republican candidate for governor in Florida — was asked if he has any regrets about saying his black Democratic opponent, Andrew Gillum, might “monkey up” the state.
DeSantis indicated he does not, before going on to decry “nonstop political correctness.”
“It’s a phony controversy. It’s being drummed up to try and distract from the clear issues that they have that are front and center, facing Floridians,” DeSantis began, before host Neil Cavuto interjected to say “I know you said there was nothing racially charged by it.”
“Of course not, of course not,” DeSantis said. “Well here’s the deal Neil — we cannot go down the road of nonstop political correctness. And people are going to demagogue what you say. That’s just unfortunately where we are at in this country. The voters, though, they know this was a nothingburger, and so I’m going to continue going forward just speaking the truth, but I’m not going to be derailed by these fake controversies.”
Asked on Fox News if he has any regrets about saying his black opponent might "monkey up" Florida, @RepDeSantis says he does not, and adds: "We cannot go down the road of nonstop political correctness." pic.twitter.com/WAM0g8w1FR
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 8, 2018
During a Fox News interview on August 29, DeSantis characterized Gilllum as an “articulate spokesman for the far left views and a charismatic candidate,” before warning that “the last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by” embracing his “socialist agenda.”
DeSantis claims that he didn’t mean for his comment to be taken as a racist dogwhistle, even though there’s no evidence “monkey” is a word he’s used in other contexts.
Last week, news broke that DeSantis was moderator of a Tea Party Facebook group rife with racist posts. DeSantis admits he was a member of the group, but claims he was listed as a moderator without his consent.
Meanwhile, during a CNN interview earlier this month, Gillum said he’s “called on my opponent to really work to rise above some of these things.”
“People are taking their cues from him, from his campaign, and from Donald Trump, and we saw in Charlottesville that could lead to real dangerous outcomes,” Gillum added.