A veterans group has condemned Ron DeSantis, the Republican nominee for Florida Governor, after he told Fox News this morning that Florida shouldn’t “monkey this up” by embracing the agenda of Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum.
“The last thing we need to do is monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state,” DeSantis said in an interview this morning about running against the Tallahassee mayor. The attack came hours after Gillum made history by becoming the first African-American gubernatorial candidate to secure a nomination in Florida.
“Racist terms, like ‘monkey,’ that @RonDeSantisFL uses in reference to his African American opponent, have no place in America,” VoteVets, an activist organization that says it represents 500,000 veterans, wrote in a tweet. “As a veteran, DeSantis running this kind of campaign hurts his fellow veterans, too – not just African American vets, but all of us. #FLGov”
Racist terms, like “monkey,” that @RonDeSantisFL uses in reference to his African American opponent, have no place in America. As a veteran, DeSantis running this kind of campaign hurts his fellow veterans, too – not just African American vets, but all of us. #FLGov pic.twitter.com/NPiyO5OUnR
— VoteVets (@votevets) August 29, 2018
The Florida Democratic Party (FDP) responded immediately.
“It’s disgusting that Ron DeSantis is launching his general election campaign with racist dog whistles,” FDP Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo said in a news release.
Gillum spokesman Geoff Burgan said the campaign was letting the FDP respond. “DeSantis’ comments speak for themselves,” Burgan said.
Republican strategist Ana Navarro took to Twitter to condemn DeSantis.
“As a Floridian, it was my hope this Governor’s race would be about the pressing issues facing our state -rising tides, algae outbreak, trade, economy, jobs,” Navarro said. “I had hoped it would not be one were racism was front and center. That hope lasted all of 10 hours.”
Stephen Lawson, communications director for the DeSantis campaign, said in an email that “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.”