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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) – Just hours after Andrew Gillum made history by being the first African-American gubernatorial nominee in Florida to win a major party’s nomination allegations of racism were leveled at his opponent.
Republican Ron DeSantis, who is backed by President Donald Trump, made the comment while appearing on Fox and Friends.
“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 said.
DeSantis made the comment while saying the state should build on the success of Governor Rick Scott.
Fox News addressed the remark a few hours later.
“We do not condone this language and wanted to make our viewers aware that he has since clarified his statement.”
DeSantis said calls that he is racist are absurd.
“It has zero to do with race,” he said. “It has to do with whether we want Florida…left wing policies that will devastate our state.”
CBS4 News spoke with Andrew Gillum about the comment.
“I think they’ve thrown away dog whistling and fully leaned into the bull horn,” Gillum said.
He added that he knows exactly what DeSantis meant.
“I understand the signal he wanted to send but the truth is I think there are more of us out there who are common and decent who frankly want to be over the politics of division,” he said.
He wasn’t the only person echoing that sentiment.
“You can window dress it a hundred ways to Sunday as to what, trying to find a way to justify it for, but Floridians know what he’s talking about,” said former Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant.
Tant said there’s no misunderstanding in the message here.
“This is a man (DeSantis) who has lived his life and professional career on Fox News. He knows what he’s saying, I’m not giving him a pass and I don’t think anyone should,” she said.
The DeSantis Campaign put out a statement saying, “Ron DeSantis was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses…” “To characterize it as anything else is absurd.”
DeSantis is tight with President Trump and has his full backing.
Gillum predicts Trump’s style of campaigning won’t work in Florida.
“I think Donald Trump is going to get a very hard reality check along with Ron DeSantis when on Nov 6, Florida voters act in strong form to reject that brand of politics and say that we deserve and are going to strive for better in Florida,” Gillum said.
Gillum upset a field of five that included former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, who was hoping to become the state’s first female governor and win the office once held by her father, Bob Graham. Gillum spent the least of the major candidates but won the hearts of those who consider themselves progressives and got a late boost from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
They’re seeking to succeed Gov. Rick Scott, who can’t run for re-election because of term limits and is instead challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.