Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum on Wednesday tied controversial remarks made by his opponent Rep. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisPoll: Trump dominates 2024 Republican primary field Republican politicians: Let OSHA do its job Ben & Jerry's unveils new flavor in support of Cori Bush's public safety reform bill MORE (R) to President Trump's rhetoric while appearing on Fox News.
DeSantis earlier in the day in his own Fox News appearance warned Florida voters not to "monkey this up" by voting for Gillum, a comment that prompted fierce backlash.
During an interview with Fox News host Shepard Smith, Gillum said DeSantis was taking a page “directly from the campaign manual of Donald Trump.”
“Yeah, that part wasn’t lost on me," Gillum said to Smith when asked about the remarks. "It’s very clear that Mr. DeSantis is taking a page directly from the campaign manual of Donald Trump. But I think he’s got another thing coming to him.”
“He thinks that in today’s day and age Florida’s voters are going to respond to that level of derision and division,” he continued. “They’re sick of it.”
"In the handbook of Donald Trump they no longer do whistle calls, they’re now using full bullhorns," Gillum continued when pressed by Smith whether he believed the congressman's remarks were racist or just a figure of speech.
"And what I’ve got to say about that is we got to make sure we stay focused, I think, on the issues that confront everyday people. I’m not going to get down in the gutter with DeSantis and Trump," he added.
DeSantis, who won the GOP primary Tuesday night, drew considerable pushback for the remarks that were perceived by many as racially charged.
In the interview, DeSantis initially referred to Gillum as "an articulate spokesman for those far-left views" and a "charismatic candidate" after Gillum's stunning Democratic primary victory Tuesday.
But he later launched into an attack on Gillum, a candidate backed by Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPelosi says House members would not vote on spending bill topline higher than Senate's Groups push lawmakers to use defense bill to end support for Saudis in Yemen civil war Congress must address the looming debt crisis MORE (I-Vt.), accusing him of embracing a "socialist agenda."
“Let’s build off the success we’ve had on Gov. Scott. The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases bankrupting the state. That is not going to work," DeSantis said, referring to Rick Scott, Florida's current Republican governor.
DeSantis's campaign said in a statement obtained by The Hill that it was "absurd" to claim that he was doing anything other than criticizing Gillum's agenda.
“Ron DeSantis was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses,” DeSantis communications director Stephen Lawson said in the statement.
“To characterize it as anything else is absurd,” Lawson added. “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.”
Trump, who endorsed DeSantis in the GOP primary, said later on Wednesday that he had "not heard” DeSantis’s controversial remarks about his opponent but said the congressman is "extraordinary."
President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE says he has "not heard” Rep. Ron DeSantis’ controversial remarks about his opponent Andrew Gillum in the governor's race in Florida. Trump also calls DeSantis "extraordinary in so many different ways" https://t.co/adyOlOeD7f pic.twitter.com/7bbpC990z9— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) August 29, 2018