Gillum: DeSantis should apologize to voters, not me

Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum (D) said Thursday that his general election opponent, Rep. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisTop Florida Democrat calls on FBI to investigate DeSantis over vaccine distribution Rick Scott caught in middle of opposing GOP factions Florida Keys enclave, home to political donors, received COVID-19 vaccine as rest of state struggled MORE (R), should apologize to voters, not to him, for saying they shouldn't "monkey this up" by voting for Gillum in November's election.

"He doesn’t need to apologize to me, he needs to apologize to Florida voters," Gillum said on MSNBC. "If he thinks that those kinds of shenanigans are going to be persuasive enough in this midterm election to turn this their way, I think he’s badly mistaken."


DeSantis, who secured the Republican nomination in the governor's race on Tuesday, has faced significant backlash for the remarks, which he insists had "zero to do with race."

"This is not about race, this is about ideas and principles," DeSantis told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Wednesday evening. He added that he does not plan to apologize.

Gillum said Thursday he believes DeSantis was "playing a little bit of a race card" with his comments, but said he didn't want the campaign to devolve into name-calling.

"I think DeSantis has decided to pull a page from the Trump campaign playbook and I think it’s unfortunate," Gillum said. 

"It will be completely unsuccessful," he continued. "People are really sick and tired of this kind of race-baiting, division, derisive element to our politics."

Trump has endorsed DeSantis in the race, and told reporters on Wednesday that he did not hear the comments about Gillum.

Critics, however, were quick to call DeSantis’s remarks racist.

"It's disgusting that Ron DeSantis is launching his general election campaign with racist dog whistles,” Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo said in a statement.

Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloFormer GOP lawmaker: Republican Party 'engulfed in lies and fear' House GOP lawmaker unexpectedly shakes up Senate trial The Memo: Historic vote leaves Trump more isolated than ever MORE (R-Fla.) called on DeSantis to apologize for what he deemed a "stupid comment."

Gillum and DeSantis are running to replace outgoing Gov. Rick Scott (R). The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, rates the race a “toss up.”