Florida’s gubernatorial election is heating up. Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis will be facing off against progressive Democrat Andrew Gillum to become the next governor.
But not even 24 hours after they were nominated by their respective parties, there’s controversy.
This morning on Fox News, DeSantis criticized Gillum by using what many are calling a racially charged word. He said, “The last thing we need to do is monkey this up trying to embrace a socialist agenda.”
The use of the word “monkey” regarding Gillum, a black man, resulted in immediate backlash.
Terrie Rizzo, chair of the Florida Democratic Party, issued a statement saying, “It’s disgusting that Ron DeSantis is launching his general election campaign with racist dog whistles.”
— Terrie Rizzo (@TerrieRizzo) August 29, 2018
Gillum retweeted that statement. But DeSantis’s spokesperson Stephen Lawson shot down that association, calling it absurd and saying that “Ron DeSantis was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses.”
Critics latched onto another part of DeSantis’s interview on Fox News where he praised Gillum’s tenure as mayor of Tallahassee. “He is an articulate spokesman for those far-left views,” DeSantis said.
Many on Twitter saw the use of the word “articulate” as a backhanded compliment to a successful black man.
DeSantis also just called Gillum "… an articulate spokesman …" https://t.co/4Ebco2UGTb
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) August 29, 2018
DeSantis calls Gillum "articulate spokesman for far-left views" and says 'the last thing we need to do is monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda…..'
Real subtle, dude. https://t.co/UtR6uCcFsM
— Jennifer Hayden (@Scout_Finch) August 29, 2018
The use of the word “monkey” in association with Gillum brings to mind Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet. In May, she compared former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett to an ape.
Odell Beckham Jr. is also taking issues with how he’s treated as a black man: