Sunday night’s gubernatorial debate was one for the history books. The debate between Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis took place in Tampa. It was nationally televised and issues including crime, the environment, health care, race and the leadership of President Donald Trump were the focus.
DeSantis, a former GOP congressman, began the CNN debate by calling Gillum a “failed mayor” and alleging that he was “involved in corruption” before the Democrat had a turn to speak. In an effort to make Gillum seem inept and inexperienced he deflected to answering questions that weren’t asked.
CNN debate moderator Jake Tapper asked: “Whoever wins the governorship on Nov. 6 will have to work with the federal government and with President Trump. Congressman DeSantis, you featured your children in a campaign ad in which you were encouraging them to, quote, build a wall out of toy blocks and reading a children’s story about the president saying you’re fired. Do you think President Trump is a good role model for the children of Florida”
Rep. Ron DeSantis immediately began to talk about Israel when he was asked about Trump. His Democratic opponent, Gillum, looked confused with the bizarre answer and proceeded to confess that he was lost.
“Mr. Mayor” Tapper asked.
“I’m confused by the question,” Gillum admitted.
“The question is whether or not he thinks President Trump is a good role model for the children of Florida,” Tapper said.
“That’s what I thought. I got confused,” Gillum said.
The audience laughed at his response.
“No, he’s not,” Gillum said, and the audience laughed again.
“Donald Trump — Donald Trump is weak. As all weak people do they become bullies and Mr. DeSantis is his acolyte. He’s trying out to be the Trump apprentice. He’s tweeting him and talking to him hand complimenting him. My disgust for the president and his behavior actually will have nothing to do with whether or not — if Trump tries to send us money as President Obama tried to send to the state of Florida to build high-speed rail across the I-4 corridor, and our governor said, ‘No, we don’t want that stimulus.’ If Trump tries to send me the 2.6, I’ll take it and bring it to the state of Florida and put the people of the state of Florida to work.”
Tapper later brought up racism, asking DeSantis about a donor “who called Obama the N-word” and about the phrase “monkey this up,” which DeSantis said when referring to Gillum the day after the Aug. 28 primary.
DeSantis suggested voters look at his past work as a prosecutor and said the race of victims was irrelevant.
“Floridians can know that I’ll be a governor for all Floridians. If we disagree tomorrow, maybe two weeks later we’ll find some common ground,” he said.
Gillum retorted, saying DeSantis “let us know exactly where he was going to take this race the day after the election” with the “monkey up” comment.
“The truth is I’m Black. I’ve been Black all my life. So far as I know I will die Black,” he said, adding that “the only color people care about is the blue-green algae” and red tide contaminating Florida waterways.
The final debate between DeSantis and Gillum will be Wednesday night at Broward College in Davie.