Gillum to Trevor Noah: DeSantis has given 'too much harbor to racists and xenophobes and anti-Semites'
Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum (D) said late Tuesday that he believes his Republican opponent, former Rep. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisGOP tentatively decides on Jacksonville for site of convention DeSantis pushing to host Republican National Convention in Florida Florida bars and theaters to reopen starting Friday, DeSantis says MORE (Fla.), has given “too much harbor to racists and xenophobes and anti-Semites.”
“He’s spoken at conferences with them,” Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, said when questioned by “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah about his opponent being dogged by allegations of racism.
“He authored a book justifying slavery,” Gillum added, apparently referring to DeSantis’s 2011 book, “Dreams From Our Founding Fathers: First Principles in the Age of Obama.”
“He, himself, when he became the Republican nominee, went on Fox News and said to the voters of Florida not to ‘monkey’ the state up,” Gillum continued. According to the Miami New Times, the Florida Republican argued in his book that it was unfair for the nation’s Founding Fathers to be blamed for permitting slavery in the U.S.
“Right, it was a phrase I never heard before,” Noah said in response.
“Well, of course we never heard it before. He tried to justify it,” Gillum said as Noah began to laugh. “But I mean ‘monkey around,’ right? ‘Monkey business.’ ‘Monkey it up.’ I mean this guy is Harvard- and Yale-educated. He could come up with a better phrase.”
“He said exactly what he meant to say. He communicated exactly what he wanted to say to his voters, to his constituents, and then, when he got called on it, he tried to run from it,” Gillum said.
DeSantis’ campaign pushed back against Gillum’s recent comments in a statement to The Hill on Tuesday morning.
“This is an attempt by the Gillum campaign to continue to distract the media from his involvement in an FBI investigation, countless news reports on him asking for and taking free stuff from lobbyists, using city funds to pay for a trip related to his campaign, accepting contributions from an undercover FBI agent and not reporting it in his disclosures,” DeSantis communications director Stephen Lawson said in a statement to The Hill.
The spokesperson also addressed Gillum’s claims that DeSantis “authored a book justifying slavery” and said none of the Democrat’s “claims are true.”
“In fact, it is the opposite,” the statement reads. “The book explains what historians say, he does not defend anything. In fact, he lauds Thurgood Marshall for his legal offensive against racial segregation and even says how not abolishing slavery in the constitution was a failure.”
DeSantis has denied allegations of racism since the day after Florida’s primary elections, when he said on Fox News that voters should not “monkey this up” by voting for Gillum, who is black.
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DeSantis, who is white, later defended the comment, telling Fox News host Sean Hannity it had “zero to do with race.”
“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,” he said.
Gillum leads DeSantis by just more than 3 points in a RealClearPolitics average of recent surveys.
Updated at 11:31 a.m.