Fox News host Sandra Smith moved quickly to distance herself and Fox News from remarks made on air by Rep. Ron DeSantis after the newly appointed GOP candidate for governor of Florida urged voters not to “monkey” up the decision by electing his African-American opponent, Andrew Gillum.
Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, is the first African-American to ever receive a major party nomination for governor of the sunshine state.
“We do not condone this language and wanted to make our viewers aware that he has since clarified his statement,” Smith said on air on Wednesday, shortly after DeSantis’ appearance, while also noting that “Mayor Gillum will be on with Shepard Smith today at 3 p.m.” She then read out a statement the DeSantis campaign issued shortly after the incident.
“Ron DeSantis was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses. To characterize it as anything else is absurd. Florida’s economy has been on the move for the last eight years and the last thing we need is a far-left democrat trying to stop our success.”
In the original video, which sparked widespread outcry, DeSantis used his appearance on Fox News to attack his Democratic opponent with standard GOP boilerplate, but got into trouble for the racially charged phrase.
“We’ve gotta work hard that we continue Florida going in a good direction, lets build off the success we’ve had on governor Scott,” said DeSantis. “The last thing we need to do is monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.”
MSNBC cut to the moment barley an hour later, while reaction on Twitter was swift and hostile. DeSantis has staked himself out as a fiercely pro-Trump candidate and the billionaire has lent his full weight behind DeSantis’ candidacy.
Reps to both DeSantis and Gillum did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Didn't even take 24 hours for Andrew Gillum's Republican opponent to make an open appeal to bigotry on Fox News. https://t.co/t4aVyBgly2
— Grant Stern (@grantstern) August 29, 2018
ah, couldn’t even wait until after labor day to do a racism https://t.co/9YY1p2mLWQ
— b-boy bouiebaisse (@jbouie) August 29, 2018
Wow, this whole spiel is egregious and intentional. https://t.co/FO3oHGj4EU
— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) August 29, 2018
Racist trashpile & white nationalist @RonDeSantisFL publicly makes a guttural, hateful racist reference a/b @AndrewGillum. And of course, the white nationalist propaganda machine at Fox News eggs him on. These bigoted scum don't belong in civil society at all. #LockThemALLUp https://t.co/zctxLWcdN1
— Mark Hughes (@markhughesfilms) August 29, 2018
— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) August 29, 2018