Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum said race should not be “weaponized” and used as a tool during the campaign.
Gillum, who is also the mayor of Tallahassee, praised his opponent, GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis, for decrying neo-Nazi robocalls aimed at hurting his candidacy and chastised anyone who would try to use race to divide the country. (RELATED: Laura Ingraham Labels Florida’s Andrew Gillum As An ‘African-American Male Version’ Of Ocasio-Cortez)
“I think what’s important is that Mr. DeSantis and obviously the president really try to go high on this thing,” Gillum said on “Meet The Press” Sunday. “We cannot afford to weaponize race and to go to the bottom of the barrel here.”
DeSantis received criticism for what some perceived as racially charged language Wednesday, when he said Florida shouldn’t “monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda.”
Despite the comment, Gillum said he would not label DeSantis as a racist. DeSantis denied any racial intent behind his words.
“He has got to be very, very careful about how he addresses these kinds of issues. I’m pleased to see them decry those robocalls, but it’s also important that DeSantis take control and ownership of his own rhetoric and words,” Gillum said.
Former President Barack Obama used a similar phrase in 2008 and said, “It’s not as if it’s just Republicans who have monkeyed around with elections in the past. Sometimes Democrats have too.”
When host Chuck Todd asked if DeSantis is a racist Gillum said, “I have not called him a racist. What I simply said was that his rhetoric in my opinion, has to be toned down.”
“I’m happy to debate him on the merits of public policy. I am not going to get into the gutter and name-call,” Gillum said. “That’s not what Florida voters are interested in and certainly that’s not why I ran for governor. I’m here to talk about the issues that confront the people of our great state.”
He later thanked left-leaning billionaire George Soros during the same interview, for financially supporting his candidacy.
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