DeSantis to Hannity: ‘Monkey this up’ remark about Gillum had ‘zero to do with race’

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis addresses his “monkey this up” remark on Sean Hannity’s show on Wednesday night.

Florida Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis on Wednesday night told Fox News that his warning to voters not to “monkey this up” by electing his black Democratic rival, Andrew Gillum, had “zero to do with race.”

DeSantis’ original remark Wednesday morning was blasted as racist by Democratic critics and called an example of “gutter” politics by Gillum, who said DeSantis was “taking a page directly from the campaign manual of Donald Trump.”

After responding with only a statement from a campaign spokesman during the day, DeSantis appeared in the evening with Sean Hannitywho campaigned with DeSantis in July — to explain himself.

“Did you in any way, do you in any way think that was something that was misstated or racist in any way?” Hannity asked.

“It has zero to do with race, Sean. It has everything to do with whether we want Florida to continue to go in a good direction, building off the success or do we want to turn to left-wing, socialist policies, which will absolutely devastate our state?” DeSantis replied.

“And here’s the thing, I believe people should be judged based on their ability and character regardless of race. But it’s because of that that I know that socialism won’t work in Florida. It’s not good for any race, color or creed. So this is not about race. This is about ideas and principles. And I’m not going to let the Democrats and Andrew Gillum try to obscure a debate about whether his tax increases, his single-payer healthcare plan, his desire to abolish ICE — whether that is something that is acceptable for Florida. I don’t think it is and I don’t care what color you are.”

DeSantis didn’t express any regrets or say whether he recognized that the remark could be considered offensive, and Hannity didn’t press him on it.

“He’s following the Trump model to the Nth degree — never apologize for anything,” said University of South Florida political scientist Susan MacManus.

MacManus predicted DeSantis’ remark will remain an issue throughout the campaign.

“It will be a get-out-the-vote tool for Democrats from now til Nov. 6,” MacManus said.