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Brzezinski: DeSantis ‘monkey’ comment was intentionally racist

MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski said on Thursday Rep. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisGillum attorney: A lawsuit is on the table Florida judge: ‘Ramp down the rhetoric’ in recount Lieberman: Trump should ‘stand back’ from the Florida recount MORE's (R-Fla.) "monkey" comment about his gubernatorial opponent Andrew Gillum (D) was intentionally racist.

"Congressman Ron DeSantis is facing criticism for his use of what some - like, most people who really study the issues of race in this country - what many people are calling 'racist language' against his opponent, Mayor Andrew Gillum, in Florida’s governor’s race," Brzezinski said on "Morning Joe." 

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"Listen to him ramping up to try and get to that statement that clearly he practiced in his mind," she added, before playing the clip of DeSantis urging Florida voters to "not monkey this up" by voting for Gillum, who would be the first African-American governor of Florida if elected.

Brzezinski pointed out that DeSantis called Gillum "articulate" before making the statement, a word some say indicates racist expectations of the way black people speak.

She asked the show's panelists if they believe the comments were a "dog whistle" meant to appeal to voters with racist views. 

"The juxtaposed 'articulate' and 'monkey it up,' whatever that's supposed to mean, was maniacally stupid," MSNBC commentator and GOP strategist Rick Tyler said. "I think the Democrats got a big boost yesterday. I think they have a leg up." 

DeSantis's campaign on Wednesday insisted he did not intend for the comment to reference Gillum's race, a denial Gillum vehemently refuted.

The Tallahassee mayor said Trump-backed DeSantis was taking a page “directly from the campaign manual of Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump to oust Nielsen as early as this week: report California wildfire becomes deadliest in state’s history Sinema’s Senate win cheered by LGBTQ groups MORE.”

"It’s very clear that Mr. DeSantis is taking a page directly from the campaign manual of Donald Trump," Gillum told Fox's Shep Smith. "But I think he’s got another thing coming to him.” 

"In the handbook of Donald Trump they no longer do whistle calls, they’re now using full bullhorns," Gillum added. 

Gillum and DeSantis won their respective Florida primaries on Tuesday night.