A neo-Nazi group bombarded the phones of Florida Democratic voters Friday with a racist robocall that uses a black minstrel-style voice to attack Democratic Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, the party’s first African-American gubernatorial nominee.
The calls are narrated by someone pretending to be Gillum and using an exaggerated minstrel dialect with jungle noises that played in the background, reports The Tallahassee Democrat.
The call reportedly ends with a disclaimer that they were funded by The Road to Power, an anti-Semitic, white supremacist website and podcast linked to Scott Rhodes of Sandpoint, Idaho.
The same group reportedly paid to send white nationalist robocalls in Iowa regarding Mollie Tibbetts, a college student who was allegedly murdered by an undocumented immigrant. The Des Moines Register has also linked the group to other robocall campaigns in Charlottesville, Virginia, Oregon and California.
Terry Kant-Rauch, a Tallahassee realtor who happens to have a biracial daughter, received one of the robocalls this morning in the voice mail of her cell phone. Kant-Rauch, a Democrat, became emotional after hearing it, she said.
“Campaign on the merits,” she told The Tallahassee Democrat, “not on the color of his skin.”
Gillum’s Republican opponent in the governor’s race, Rep. Ron DeSantis, on Wednesday prompted fierce backlash after he warned Floridians not to “monkey this up” by voting for Gillum.
“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. That is not going to work,” DeSantis said in an interview with Fox News.
DeSantis’s campaign said it was “absurd” to claim that the Florida Republican was doing anything other than criticizing Gillum’s agenda.
“This is absolutely appalling and disgusting — and hopefully whoever is behind this has to answer for this despicable action,” DeSantis campaign spokesman Stephen Lawson said in a statement to Politico on Friday. “Our campaign has and will continue to focus solely on the issues that Floridians care about and uniting our state as we continue to build on our success.”
Geoff Burgan, a spokesman for Gillum’s campaign, also issued a statement to the publication condemning the robocalls.
“This is reprehensible — and could only have come from someone with intentions to fuel hatred and seek publicity. Please don’t give it undeserved attention,” Burgan said.