Photo by: Phelan M. Ebenhack
Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis drew major criticism on Wednesday when he made a remark about voters picking Democratic opponent Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum instead of him. Mr. Gillum avoided polarizing language after his victory. (Associated Press)
Rep. Ron DeSantis, Republican gubernatorial candidate for Florida, has been fighting off backlash from a phrase he used to describe the far left political leanings of his black Democratic opponent, Andrew Gillum, and doubling down that “monkey this up” was a warning against wrecking the state with socialist policies.
Maybe if DeSantis were a Democrat, there wouldn’t be any problem with his choice of phrase.
Barack Obama, as Breitbart noted, warned voters in 2008 that politicians had far too often, and at great peril to the nation, “monkeyed around with elections in the past.”
Where were the outraged accusations of racism then?
Here’s what DeSantis said, in context of discussing Gillum’s leftist leanings: “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.”
From that, came all this furor — and deceit.
“Florida’s GOP gubernatorial nominee says a vote for his black opponent would ‘monkey this up,’ ” blasted CNN in a headline.
“Andrew Gillum: Ron DeSantis ‘Monkey’ Comment Out of Trump Playbook,” ran USA Today in its headline.
“Ron DeSantis Uses ‘Monkey’ to Describe Andrew Gillum’s Agenda,” blared the Sun Sentinel.
And then this, from the Wrap: “Fox News Anchor Rebukes Ron DeSantis for ‘Monkey’ Comment About Black Opponent.”
Except DeSantis didn’t really make the comment about Gillum; rather, he made the comment about socialist-style politics that could really muck up an economy.
As NBC reporter Ali Vitali tweeted: “DeSantis‘ spox tells me this is something the congressman says ‘frequently’ to express something that was messed up or not done right. Spox said it ‘had nothing to do with race or anything like that’ but just talking about the situation in Florida.”
Everybody gets that. Even Obama.
“I come from Chicago. It’s not as if it’s just Republicans who have monkeyed around with elections in the past,” he said, back in 2008 at Kent State University, Breitbart reported. “Sometimes Democrats have, too.”
Meanwhile, DeSantis himself made an appearance on Fox News with Sean Hannity to clarify what really doesn’t need clarifying — and what wouldn’t need clarifying if Democrats and Gillum’s campaign could refrain from inserting racism where no racism exists.
“It has zero to do with race,” DeSantissaid of his phrase. “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?”
Exactly. Now if the Democrats could only stop all this monkeying around, maybe the Florida race could progress with focus on policies and what matters.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley