DeSantis wins tense Florida gubernatorial debate against Gillum, Trump claims
President Trump late Sunday took to Twitter to congratulate Ron DeSantis, the GOP candidate for Florida governor, for a "great debate victory" against his Democratic challenger Andrew Gillum.
Gillum likely cares little about Trump's analysis and spent most of the debate working to connect DeSantis with the president. At one point he called DeSantis Trump’s acolyte.
DeSantis said the state’s governor’s relationship with the president – whether he or she agrees with the office or not—is important for the state.
"You need to be able to work with the president," DeSantis said. "Andrew can't do that. He wants to impeach Trump, he's always saying bad things about him ... I think I will be better positioned to advance Florida’s priorities because I have a productive relationship with the administration."
CNN’s Jake Tapper, the debate’s moderator, asked DeSantis about his now-famous "monkey this up" comment and DeSantis used his time serving as a Navy officer in Iraq to talk about his feelings on race.
"When we're downrange in Iraq, it didn't matter your race," he said. "We all wore the same uniform, we all had that American flag patch on our arm and that was end of story," he said. "I'll be a governor for all Floridians."
Gillum implied that DeSantis has aligned himself with racists through social media and speeches he's made.
"The monkey up comment said it all and he has only continued in the course of his campaign to draw all the attention he can to the color of my skin," Gillum said. "And the truth is, you know what? I'm black. I've been black I'll my life and as far as I know, I'll die black."
Trump tweeted that Tallahassee – the city where Gillum serves as mayor – is one of the "worst run, and most corrupt" cities in the state. He said "Gillum will make Florida the next Venezuela."
The Associated Press contributed to this report