Democrats blast DeSantis for ‘monkey this up’ quote about Gillum agenda

Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis on Fox News this morning.

Democrats accused U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, the Florida Republican nominee for governor, of using racist language when he used “monkey” as a verb when discussing the agenda of his black rival, Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum.

DeSantis’s campaign called the accusation “absurd.”

Appearing on Fox News the morning after he and Gillum won their primaries, DeSantis said: “We’ve got to work hard to make sure we continue Florida going in a good direction. 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 and bankrupting the state.”

Gillum — endorsed by Democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders — was branded a “failed Socialist Mayor” in a morning tweet by President Donald Trump.

DeSantis’ use of “monkey this up” was blasted by Democrats on a conference call organized by the Florida Democratic Party.

“I’ve learned dealing with the affiliates of the Trump administration that they always find a way to add some sort of insult to African-Americans and make it racist,” said Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami, who is black.

“That was more than a dog whistle. That was absolutely a racist, disgusting statement and I don’t think there’s any other way to interpret it,” said Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach.

The DeSantis campaign rejected the charge:

“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. 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,” said Stephen Lawson, the communications director for DeSantis’s campaign.

Palm Beach County GOP Chairman Michael Barnett, who is black, said DeSantis made “a poor choice of words, but harmless nonetheless…He’s not a racist. That’s what they’re getting at. He’s not a racist.”

Barnett accused Democrats of “trying to turn this campaign into an issue of race” to divert attention from the “crazy, left-wing views, socialist views” of Gillum.