Excerpt: Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum on Sunday said a robocall aimed at mocking his race was "deeply regrettable" and took aim at his Republican opponent for saying Florida voters should not "monkey this up" by electing Gillum.
The 78-second prerecorded message, obtained by CNN, is narrated by a man speaking in a caricature of a black dialect with cartoonish jungle noises in the background. It ends with a disclaimer that it was paid for by The Road to Power, a white supremacist and anti-Semitic video podcast hosted by Scott Rhodes of Idaho.
The phone message went to Florida residents, but it's unclear how many received it. The Tallahassee Democrat first reported the robocall.
Asked about the robocall, Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, told CNN's "State of the Union, "I have to tell you I find this deeply regrettable."
Stephen Lawson, a spokesman for Gillum's Republican opponent, Rep. Ron DeSantis, condemned the call, calling it "absolutely appalling and disgusting" and saying the campaign "will continue to focus solely on the issues that Floridians care about and uniting our state."
But he also faced criticism last week for saying during a Fox News appearance that Florida voters should not "monkey this up" by electing Gillum. DeSantis' campaign denied the comments were racial.
Gillum, on "State of the Union," said DeSantis was pushing racist "dog whistles" with the comment.
"We can have a challenge between ideas and around what we think the people of the state of Florida deserve," Gillum later added. "What I don't want the race to turn into is a race of name-calling. I want to make sure that we don't racialize and, frankly, weaponize race as a part of the process, which is why I have called on my opponent to really work to rise above some of these things."
Hot Take: If you’re looking for a bright spot in our Governor's race, it’s unlikely to go downhill from here because it probably isn’t possible for it to take a lower turn than where it’s started. First, we have DeSantis’s comments made last Wednesday taken to absurd places and just when you thought we might be able to turn the page and have intelligent policy debates discussed between the candidates we have white supremacists engaging in the lowest form of the human condition, interjecting themselves into the election process by robocalling with racism. What a mess.
It’s also a reminder that just about any interest group can buy up phone lists and robocall everyone on it skirting FTC rules in the process. Even the lowest of the low. That being said, Gillum doesn’t deserve a pass on his effort to continue to pay credence to the notion that Ron DeSantis is a racist. He’s playing a game of not directly calling Ron racist while attempting to assert that Ron was deliberately attempting to activate some type of neo-nazi base or something. This dog-whistle crap is just that, utter poo. Barak Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are all among those who’ve used the exact same character as DeSantis without the Gillum’s of the world coming out and suggesting it was code language to excite racists. Only adding to the absurdity is the notion that in an election between a black guy and a white guy, a white racist person would need a “dog-whistle” to find their candidate.
Gillum for his part is currently a part of the problem in this conversation. While calling on DeSantis to “rise above” all of this nonsense, he himself is using it politically by continuing to assert that it was intentional language meant for a political outcome.
We do we go from here? Hard to tell but surely the answer is up?