Barack Obama warned supporters that politicians had “monkeyed around” with elections, during a campaign speech at Kent State University in New Philadelphia, Ohio, on September 3, 2008.
Then-Senator Obama (D-IL) said (0:29 in the video below): “I come from Chicago. It’s not as if it’s just Republicans who have monkeyed around with elections in the past. Sometimes Democrats have, too. You know, whenever people are in power, they have this tendency to try to tilt things in their direction.”
Obama called for establishing a “voting rights division” within the Department of Justice (DOJ) to combat “voter fraud” and what he said were efforts to “discourage people to vote.”
On Wednesday, Florida Republican gubernatorial nominee Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) advised Floridians not to “monkey this up” by selecting a “socialist agenda” via a Democrat governor.
News media outlets such as The Hill and CNN framed the comment as racial, given that DeSantis’s Democrat opponent, Andrew Gillum, is black.
— The Hill (@thehill) August 29, 2018
CNN published two articles headlined: “Florida’s GOP gubernatorial nominee says a vote for his black opponent would ‘monkey this up’,” and “GOP candidate accused of using racist term,” both casting DeSantis’s “monkey this up” remark as racist.
Gillum made the most of the narrative, saying Floridians’ “rich diversity” would compel the Sunshine State’s residents to reject “racists” and “misogynists.” And Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo tweeted, “It’s disgusting that Ron DeSantis is launching his general election campaign with racist dog whistles.”
DeSantis later expanded on his comments via his campaign’s communications director, who said, “Ron DeSantis was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Gillum espouses. … To characterize it as anything else is absurd. Florida’s economy has been on the move for the last eight years, and the last thing we need is a far-left democrat trying to stop our success.”