Brzezinski: DeSantis ‘monkey’ comment was intentionally racist

MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski said on Thursday Rep. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisFlorida governor suspends Palm Beach County elections supervisor Florida governor threatens Airbnb over West Bank settlements Florida governor announces sheriff's suspension over Parkland shooting 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 claims media 'smeared' students involved in encounter with Native American man Al Sharpton criticizes Trump’s ‘secret’ visit to MLK monument Gillibrand cites spirituality in 2020 fight against Trump’s ‘dark’ values 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.