Gillum responds to racist robocalls: I want to make sure we don't 'weaponize race'

Gillum responds to racist robocalls: I want to make sure we don't 'weaponize race'
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Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum (D) on Sunday called it "deeply regrettable" that his campaign was targeted by a racist robocall from an out-of-state white supremacist group, noting it came days after his Republican opponent was accused of using racially charged language.

"We can have a challenge between ideas and around what we think the people of the state of Florida deserve. What I don’t want this race to turn into is a race of name-calling," Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, Fla., said on CNN's "State of the Union."

"I want to make sure that we don’t racialize, and frankly, weaponize race as part of this process," he added. "People are taking cues from (Republican nominee Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisDeSantis 'hell bent' on debating Gillum in Florida governor race Trump stands by tweets questioning Puerto Rico death toll: 'NO WAY' Trump cites Geraldo Rivera on Puerto Rico: ‘When did people start dying?’ MORE), from his campaign and from [President] Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpOver 100 lawmakers consistently voted against chemical safeguards: study CNN's Anderson Cooper unloads on Trump Jr. for spreading 'idiotic' conspiracy theories about him Cohn: Jamie Dimon would be 'phenomenal' president MORE." 

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The New York Times reported Saturday that Gillum was the target of a robocall paid for by an Idaho-based white supremacist organization. The phone recording features a man pretending to be Gillum speaking in an exaggerated black minstrel-style accent as by jungle noises play in the background.

Both Gillum’s and DeSantis’s campaigns condemned the message.

The day after last Tuesday's primary, DeSantis, a U.S. congressman, urged voters not to “monkey this up” by voting for Gillum in the November election.

His comments prompted fierce backlash, with critics suggesting the remarks had racial undertones or were outright racist.

DeSantis denied that race had anything to do with his comments, but instead argued he was focusing on "ideas and principles."

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

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.”