Andrew Gillum, Tallahassee’s mayor and Democratic candidate for governor of Florida, and Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) went head-to-head Sunday during the gubernatorial debate.
In the one-hour showdown hosted by CNN’s Jake Tapper, the two went back and forth on race, President Donald Trump and the economy.
Here are three highlights.
Ever since Gillum won the Democratic primary to become Florida’s next governor, he’s been hit with comments that some have deemed racist. DeSantis appeared on television in August following his win and said Florida voters should not “monkey this up” by electing Gillum, and it was revealed that a Republican donor, who donated thousands of dollars to DeSantis’ campaign, called former President Barack Obama the n-word.
On Sunday, DeSantis, who did not return the money, said the donor “made a mistake” and apologized. He also added that he would be governor to “all Floridians,” citing his time as a prosecutor and his military experience.
“Floridians can know I’ll be a governor for all Floridians.” Citing his military experience, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis addressed concerns voters may have about about his racial tolerance, remarks and associations #FLGovDebate https://t.co/uC9wFtQj1x pic.twitter.com/M1AvDkXIas
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) October 22, 2018
The Tallahassee mayor said DeSantis has focused only on the color of his skin.
“I’m Black, I’ve been Black all my life, so far as I know, I will die Black,” said Gillum.
Gillum has been an opponent of the National Rifle Association and has vowed to be tough on the gun lobbying group if he’s elected governor.
“The congressman was against the piece of legislation because he is wholly owned by the NRA. He’s not gonna stand up to the National Rifle Association,” he said of DeSantis. “That’s why they’re running all these ads against me because they want the man that they bought.”
The NRA revealed new grades for Florida candidates running for office and gave DeSantis an A (it gave Gillum an F).
Andrew Gillum’s response: “The congressman was against the piece of legislation because he is wholly owned by the NRA. He’s not gonna stand up to the National Rifle Association. That's why they’re running all these ads against me because they want the man that they bought.” pic.twitter.com/U1xQUPbpBq
— CNN (@CNN) October 22, 2018
In one of the most bizarre exchanges of the night, Jake Tapper asked DeSantis if Trump was a good role model for kids in Florida. The congressman began talking about Trump’s decision to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, saying Trump made a promise to move the embassy and he followed through with it.
The moment did not go unnoticed by Gillum, who seemed perplexed by the answer.
“I’m confused by the question,” Gillum told Tapper, who reminded him what was asked. “That’s what I thought, originally. I got confused.”
Gillum added that the president was not a good role model for children and that he’s “weak.”
“Donald Trump is weak,” he said. “He performs as all weak people do. They become bullies.”
This was the moment of the debate for me: @AndrewGillum gives the PERFECT reaction to DeSantis' weird answer about Trump being a role model for kids. Perfect. And hilarious. #FLGovDebate pic.twitter.com/wP608iIxIA
— Tommy X-TrumpIsARacist-opher (@tommyxtopher) October 22, 2018
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.