Democratic nominee for governor Andrew Gillum said Wednesday that Republican Ron DeSantis was executing the Donald Trump playbook when he said Floridians shouldn't "monkey this up" by voting for Gillum.
"I think he's got another thing coming to him if he thinks that in today's day and age Florida voters are going to respond to that level of derision and division," Gillum said. "They're sick of it."
The comment from DeSantis came Wednesday on Fox News in one of his first interviews after winning the Republican primary on Tuesday. DeSantis also called Gillum an "articulate spokesman" for the far-left.
Gillum is the first black nominee for governor from a major party. Both statements drew immediate condemnation from Democrats as racist.
But Fox News also swiftly distanced itself from DeSantis' remark.
"We do not condone this language," Fox News' Sandra Smith said on air shortly after DeSantis spoke.
DeSantis' campaign said the comments are being misconstrued.
Asked if he thought the comment was racist, Gillum said: "In the handbook of Donald Trump, they no longer do whistle calls, they're now using full bullhorns."
Fox News host Shepard Smith asked again, but Gillum declined to say, instead adding: "I'm not going to get down in the gutter with DeSantis and Trump. There's enough of that going on. I'm going to try to stay high."
Trump, a frequent Fox News viewer, was asked about DeSantis' comment. He told reporters: "I haven't heard that at all."