Former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele says Ron DeSantis absolutely doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt for racially charged comments aimed at Black Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum.
During an appearance on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press,” Steele condemned DeSantis’ remarks and said the Republican candidate doesn’t get a pass for perpetuating how “white folks talk about Black men who are successful.”
DeSantis, who clinched the Republican nomination in Florida’s governor’s race on Tuesday, sparked public outrage when he warned Florida voters not to “monkey this up” by electing his “articulate” African-American opponent. After Tuesday night’s win, Gillum, a Democrat, is on his way to becoming the first Black governor in Florida’s history.
“Why’d you have to describe him that way?” Steele said of DeSantis’ “articulate” comment, with host Chuck Todd adding it isn’t a word typically used to describe white candidates.
“But here’s the rub,” he continued. “Who uses the term ‘monkey things up?’ To be honest, I know about a monkey wrench, I’ve heard of don’t monkey around, but I have never heard that term used that way.”
Steele said DeSantis’ comments, which many described as a racist dog whistle, was meant for a specific audience and commended Fox News for pushing against his racist remarks.
“This is in the land of Trump,” he said. “I [DeSantis] took the Trump train to stupid land and I’m going in, and here we are.”
Amid the uproar, DeSantis clarified his statements, saying it was “absurd” for folks to think his “monkey” remark was racially tinged.
“Ron DeSantis was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses,” his campaign wrote in a statement to Fox News. “To characterize it as anything else is absurd.”
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