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"The last thing, the last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state", DeSantis said. In contrast, DeSantis has been one of President Trump's fiercest and most visible advocates in the House of Representatives.

A group of local pastors, including Rev. Joaquin Willi, left, speak out against GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis' "monkey this up" remarks concerning his Democratic party challenger Andrew Gillum.

In an appearance on MSNBC's "Meet the Press Daily", Gillum told host Chuck Todd that the voters of Florida are "better than this".

DeSantis: Florida voters shouldn't "monkey this up" by voting for black candidate.

Andrew Gillum took office as Mayor of Tallahassee in November of 2014.

"If you rely on 2016 polling techniques to predict races, you're going to lose", says Pat Reilly, Co-founder of Change Research, the firm the Gillum campaign relied on for its internal surveys.

Stephen Lawson, a DeSantis spokesman, later said that such characterizations were "absurd".

"That part wasn't lost on me", Gillum responded on Fox News when asked about the "monkey this up" comment.

U.S. Senate candidate and U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., speaks to supporters after her primary election victory, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018, in Tempe, Ariz.

Momentum Builds Behind Pitch To Rename Russell Senate Office Building After McCain
For the past year, McCain had been planning his funeral and was vehement that Trump not attend the services. "Not even close. Obama who defeated McCain in 2008 presidential election, issued a statement shortly after news broke of his passing .

"There is a difference in getting some of the Bernie Sanders people to vote for you in a primary and then going to the broader Florida electorate and trying to sell that message", DeSantis said.

Critics blasted Mr DeSantis, a staunch Trump supporter, for comments he made in a Fox News interview that they said had racist undertones.

Trump called Gillum a "failed Socialist Mayor.who has allowed crime & many other problems to flourish in his city".

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis has to pick a running mate by next week. "Floridians want a leader who will bring them together; Ron DeSantis has shown that he would only divide Florida".

Before hearing the statement, Gillum was on CNN talking about the divisiveness of DeSantis and Trump.

One thing is certain: The Gillum-DeSantis race will be bitter, hard fought, and expensive - costing millions of dollars. Democrat Stacey Abrams won the party's nomination in Georgia in May.

"This has nothing to do with color, gender, or any other identifying characteristic", he said.

"We need to silence the dog whistle, and don't say we don't hear it, because many of us have heard it so many times before", retired Rev. Joaquin Willis said at a news conference in Miami-Dade County on Thursday, according to ABC affiliate WPLG.