GOP Florida governor nominee Ron DeSantis criticized for "monkey" remark

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President Donald Trump and Andrew Gillum, the surprise Democratic victor of Florida's Democratic gubernatorial primary, exchanged barbs on Wednesday morning, underscoring the role the president is expected to play in a marquee race this fall. He is endorsed by President Donald Trump, Fox News host Sean Hannity, and his HFC colleague Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. "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". "That is not going to work. Because I remember in high school, that was the number one reason why some of the people I went to school with ended up falling out, and didn't do good in school, didn't do good in sports".

"There's an eagerness to immediately consolidate behind the Democratic nominee", Smith said. "That was absolutely a racist, disgusting statement".

"And I think that's what we did in this primary race, and I think that's going to be critical to winning in the general".

The DeSantis campaign clarified that his comments were directed at Gillum's policies, not the candidate himself.

Stephen Lawson, a DeSantis spokesman, later said that such characterizations were "absurd".

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On the Republican side, both primary candidates-Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Congressman Ron DeSantis-opposed adult-use legalization.

Just hours after sending a lightning bolt to the heart of the Sunshine State's political establishment with his historic upset victory over bigger-spending rivals, Gillum, the 39-year-old mayor of Tallahassee who is vying to be the first African American in the governor's mansion, was already campaigning for November's election.

Gillum also won the support of nationally prominent progressives like NY congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen.

Gillum, who was backed by Sen. DeSantis has the endorsement of President Trump.

Meanwhile, DeSantis will test Trump's grip on a crucial state he won in 2016 and wants to keep in his column in 2020. Her challenge now is to unify the GOP base behind her, especially those aligned with Trump and who did not support McCain's frequent criticism of him, while also reaching out to voters in the political center.

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Trump has lavishly praised DeSantis, one of his most reliable TV defenders, and slammed Gillum as "a failed Socialist Mayor".

DeSantis first won a northeastern Florida seat in Congress in 2012.

Martha McSally fended off a pair of conservative challengers to carry the Republican Senate primary to fill the seat vacated by retiring Sen. Marco Rubio shut down his presidential campaign and ran for re-election.

"He will be a great Senator", Trump tweeted of Scott. He quickly spent $37 million from his own wealth for television ads, a move that cut into voters supporting Levine, and again gave Graham her front-runner status. Orlando-area businessman Chris King finished last. Gillum was elected to the city commission of Tallahassee while still a student at the University in 2003. Gillum has said he's not a target.

DeSantis's campaign rejected the insinuation, saying that the candidate's remarks had nothing to do with Gillum's race and everything to do with his politics.

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Gillum didn't make race an issue in the primary. Gwen Graham (D-FL), whose father Bob Graham had both served as Florida's Governor, and as U.S. Senator.