Fox News host Sandra Smith attempted to distance her network from GOP Florida governor candidate Ron DeSantis (R) after he said on-air Wednesday morning that Florida voters shouldn’t “monkey this up” by backing his Democratic gubernatorial opponent Andrew Gillum. The attack came hours after Gillum made history by becoming the first African-American gubernatorial candidate to secure a nomination in Florida.
“Let’s build off the success we’ve had on Gov. 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. That is not going to work,” DeSantis said about Gillum. He added that Gillum is “an articulate spokesman for those far-left views” and a “charismatic candidate” after his stunning Democratic primary victory on Tuesday night.
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
“A little while ago, we had Ron DeSantis, the Republican nominee for governor in Florida on for an interview to discuss the Florida election,” Smith said on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” before reading a statement from DeSantis’s campaign clarifying his earlier remarks.
“We do not condone this language and wanted to make our viewers aware that he has since clarified his statement,” she added.
“Ron DeSantis was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses,” DeSantis communications director Stephen Lawson said in a statement.
“To characterize it as anything else is absurd,” Lawson added. “Florida’s economy has been on the move for the last eight years and the last thing we need is a far-left democrat trying to stop our success.”
Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo had slammed DeSantis’s initial remarks after the interview, saying in a statement, “It’s disgusting that Ron DeSantis is launching his general election campaign with racist dog whistles.”
Geoff Burgan, Gillum’s campaign spokesman, told the Tallahassee Democrat that his campaign was letting Rizzo respond to DeSantis’s comments, adding, “DeSantis’s comments speak for themselves.”