GOP Rep Says DeSantis Should Apologize for ‘Stupid’ Monkey Comment

Florida Republican Curbelo calls out DeSantis over comment he made about black opponent

Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, said he didn’t think fellow GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis is a racist, but his comment on his African-American opponent is. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo said fellow Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis should apologize for a remark he made about his Democratic opponent in the state’s governor’s race that has been criticized as racist.

DeSantis, the Republican nominee for governor, came under fire for saying in an interview with Fox News that Florida could not afford to “monkey this up” by electing Democratic nominee Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is African-American.

Responding to criticism, DeSantis said the expression has “zero to do with race.”

Calling African-Americans monkeys has long been considered racist.

Curbelo, who is Cuban-American, told MSNBC  that DeSantis is not a racist but should still apologize.

“I’ve never heard him say anything disparaging about any ethnic group or any person for that matter,” Curbelo said. “But I’ll also say that that was just a stupid comment to make, one that was obviously offensive to a lot of people.”

Curbelo said he and Gillum know each other from when they were seniors in high school and were members of the executive board of the Florida student council.

“They’re both men of my generation, something that’s exciting for me personally and I think for a lot of Floridians. And as younger elected officials they should both set an example of what a healthy debate can look like in our state and I don’t think Ron did a good job of that that yesterday," he said, according to the Sun Sentinel.

Curbelo is running against Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who won her primary the same day Gillum won his, in a race rated Tilt Republican by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales.

Watch: House Ratings Change in Favor of Democrats

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.