Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum delivered a powerful debate performance Wednesday night against his Republican rival for Florida governor Ron DeSantis.
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Gillum, who’s making a bid to become the state’s first African-American governor, shredded the GOP candidate with his sharp wit and piercing comments. Here are some of his best shots.
When DeSantis was cornered on his close ties to racists, he began raising his voice and getting defensive.
“As my grandmother used to say, a hit dog will holler.”
He added this gem:
“I’m not calling him a racist. But the racists believe he’s a racist.”
The candidates were asked whether the divisiveness in the nation’s political discourse has pushed some people to the edge, prompting actions like sending pipe bombs in the mail to high-profile Democrats.
Gillum argued that DeSantis is part of the problem. He pointed to comments DeSantis made on Fox News in which he warned Floridians not to “monkey this up” by voting for his Black opponent. Soon after DeSantis blew that racist dog whistle, neo-Nazis began sending out robocalls that included jungle music and monkey calls in the background.
“My opponent has run this race very close to the Trump handbook where we call each other names.”
Gillum noted that teachers’ salaries in Florida are ranked the 45th lowest of the 50 states.
“If my grandmother was here, she wouldn’t just say that’s a shame, she would say that’s a crying shame.”
Gillum called out DeSantis for telling lies about his policy positions
“In the last debate, Mr. DeSantis lied 21 times. Now, today makes the 22nd, and we’ve just started this debate.”
Medicaid expansion and healthcare policy
DeSantis tried desperately to defend his multiple votes in Congress to end Obamacare without having a suitable replacement. Gillum explained to the former congressman that healthcare is a top issue for Floridians. He recalled his childhood experiences.
“I remember having to wait for the free dental clinic to come through my neighborhood to have my teeth cleaned.”
DeSantis questioned the moderator’s data from the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office’s report that rejected the healthcare plan that the former congressman and his GOP colleagues promoted. Gillum delivered this zinger.
“Mr. DeSantis could have a monopoly on his opinion, but he doesn’t have a monopoly on facts. Facts matter.”
One of the big questions before the debate rematch was how Gillum would respond to an onslaught from DeSantis over an FBI probe into possible Tallahassee government corruption, in which the mayor was reportedly not the target of the investigation.
On Tuesday, text messages were made public about the source of tickets Gillum received to the Broadway musical “Hamilton” that appear to contradict his statements at the first debate on the issue.
“In the state of Florida we have 99 issues, and Hamilton ain’t one of them.”
The Republican taxes overhaul
Gillum called the GOP tax overhaul that boosted the bottom line for corporations a failure for working class families. The Republicans promised that there would be a “magical trickle down” to poor people. Instead of a pay raise to working class families, the tax overhaul gave the nation something else.
“They have drilled a deep hole into the national debt and working people haven’t seen any appreciable rise in their wages.”
Families continue to struggle financially
While the Trump administration and Republicans tout falling unemployment rates, wages have not increased.
“Forty-four percent of people in the state of Florida say they can’t make ends meet at the end of the month. Mr. DeSantis’ big donors may be doing just fine. They’ve got their yachts and boats. For the rest of the working people in this state, they simply want a wage they could live on.”
“We’re not going to criminalize people of their personhood simply because you’re a brown-skinned person or that you speak a language that may be of a foreign tongue to Mr. DeSantis or you live in a neighborhood that may include more brown people. That doesn’t, in and of itself, subject you to racial profiling. That’s the essence of what he would be promoting.”
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