Liberal activist group American Bridge slammed Republican Gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis Thursday with a provocative new video.
The title: “You might be a racist … if your name is Ron DeSantis.”
DeSantis, whose campaign began with a warning that electing Democrat Andrew Gillum would “monkey this up,” has struggled to deflect Democratic criticism on the grounds of racial insensitivity.
The American Bridge video opens with that quote, calling it an example of using “racial bullhorns” (a quote from Gillum as the controversy broke).
From there, the group reminds voters of DeSantis being an administrator of a “racist Facebook page,” then splices in reportage of DeSantis speaking at four different conferences organized by conservative provocateur David Horowitz.
Horowitz has been defined in this campaign by a 1999 quote that “African Americans owe their freedom to white people and that the country’s ‘only serious race war’ is against whites.”
“DeSantis spoke at event hosted by race war theorist,” read one headline excerpted in the spot, juxtaposed over DeSantis saying it was an “honor” to speak at Horowitz’s conclaves during one of his speeches.
“David’s done such great work and I’ve been an admirer of an organization that shoots straight and tells people the truth,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis has addressed these controversies in recent weeks, though clearly not in a way that has blunted criticism.
He dismissed the “monkey this up” controversy as a “nothingburger” on Fox News.
Regarding the racist Facebook page, a DeSantis spox told the Tampa Bay Times that DeSantis was “was completely unaware that he was part of the Facebook group, which he was added to without his knowledge or consent. As soon as he found out about it, he immediately deleted it.”
Regarding the Horowitz conferences, DeSantis addressed that controversy most directly with POLITICO Florida.
“So, look, at the end of the day, the way the Washington Post characterized that was a smear. It was totally unacceptable. Now, granted, when I go to a conference … I’m not at everything. I wasn’t at [sic] many of these people. This Milo [Yiannopolis] guy? Not my cup of tea,” DeSantis said.
The candidate added that “what the Washington Post is trying to do — they don’t have the goods on me. So they’re trying to do some type of smear by association. And that is just unacceptable.”
“If they want to see what I’ve been up to, it’s all out there. Take a look. Judge me on my merits. But I am not going to sit here and let them [say] ‘this guy tweeted something two years later, therefore …’ No. No. No. No. That was a bad piece of journalism,” DeSantis said.
These reports have not abated during the first two weeks of the general election campaign, and at least one survey — from the GOP-friendly Florida Chamber — suggests that the oppo is leaving a mark.
Gillum is up 47 to 43, with leads in every major media market but Jacksonville.
The Democrat’s fundraising is also surging, though one suspects the GOP cavalry will come to the rescue soon enough.