Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) couldn’t even wait 24 hours after winning the Republican nomination for the Florida governor’s race before unfurling an insulting attack on his black opponent — an attack that was too far even for Fox News.
“Let’s build off the success 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 with huge tax increases bankrupting the state,” DeSantis said of his Democratic opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. Gillum is the first African-American to be nominated for governor in Florida.
DeSantis’ dog whistle was so loud, even Fox felt the need to distance itself from the Trump-backed nominee.
“We do not condone this language and wanted to make our viewers aware that he has since clarified his statement,” Fox News anchor Sandra Smith said later on air.
It’s quite a statement coming from the same outlet that helped fuel DeSantis’ primary campaign by giving him $9 million in free airtime.
Uh Ron DeSantis just said FL shouldn’t “monkey this up” by electing Andrew Gillum pic.twitter.com/nDPp3Hx7zc
— Steve Morris (@stevemorris__) August 29, 2018
Democrats were also quick to condemn the comments.
“It’s disgusting that Ron DeSantis is launching his general election campaign with racist dog whistles,” Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo said in a statement.
DeSantis’ campaign denied his “monkey” comment was meant as a racial slight and called the burgeoning controversy “absurd.”
Still, DeSantis’ “monkey” attack came on the same morning that Trump launched his own dog-whistle attack on Gillum, suggesting the black candidate is weak on crime. Trump referred to Gillum as the “failed Socialist Mayor named Andrew Gillum who has allowed crime & many other problems to flourish in his city.”
Trump has relentlessly promoted DeSantis’ career since the Republican congressman emerged as one of Trump’s most sycophantic defenders. DeSantis has faithfully tried to defend Trump from scandal by attacking U.S. law enforcement.
“Congressman Ron DeSantis is a special person who has done an incredible job. He is running in Tuesdays Primary for Governor of Florida,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “Strong on Crime, Borders and wants Low Taxes. He will be a great Governor and has my full and total Endorsement!”
Trump, of course, has embraced a white nationalist agenda and regularly insults prominent black Americans.
This is not the first time DeSantis has used dismissive language when referring to a progressive Democrat of color.
After Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez scored a surprise upset win in a New York Democratic primary in June, DeSantis soon attacked her.
“You look at this girl, Ocasio-Cortez or whatever she is, I mean, she’s in a totally different universe,” he said during a campaign stop. “It’s basically socialism wrapped in ignorance.”
Today, it’s DeSantis who is wrapped in ignorance.