MIAMI, FL — Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis followed up his big primary victory in Florida with an appearance on Fox News. But rather than help his campaign, DeSantis is now having to explain his poor choice of words in describing his Democrat opponent’s liberal politics. His opponent is Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is vying to become the state’s first black chief executive.

“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 told the news channel referring to Gillum, who pulled off an epic come-from-behind victory with a shoestring budget and an endorsement from former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.

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Endorsed by President Trump, the GOP congressman cruised to an early victory with 56.4 percent of the vote. Gillum overcame an early deficit to take 34.2 percent of the Democrat vote and earn his party’s nomination for the gubernatorial race to replace two-term Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Fox News anchor Sandra Smith ran a follow-up to Wednesday’s interview with DeSantis in which she said that the network does not “condone this language” and pointed out that DeSantis clarified his earlier remarks in the following statement:

“Ron DeSantis was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses,” according to the statement. “To characterize it as anything else is absurd. Florida’s economy has been on the move for the last eight years and the last thing we need is a far-left Democrat trying to stop our success.”

The network also invited Gillum to appear with Shepard Smith on Wednesday.

“Yeah, that part wasn’t lost on me. It’s very clear that Mr. DeSantis is taking a page directly from the campaign manual of Donald Trump,” Gillum told Fox during the interview. “I think he’s got another thing coming to him if he thinks that in today’s day in age Florida voters are going to respond to that level of derision and division — they’re sick of it. What we’re trying to offer in this race is a north star for where we want to go as a state.”

President Trump didn’t weigh in on the controvery but tweeted his congratulations to DeSantis. He referred to Gillum as a “failed Socialist mayor” who allowed crime and “many other problems to flourish” in his city.

Photo of Ron DeSantis courtesy U.S. Congress

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