A lot happened in the second and final debate of the Florida governor’s race between Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis—DeSantis tried to make an issue of Gillum’s Hamilton tickets and Gillum pointed out that DeSantis won’t even disclose what travel he spent $145,000 on; DeSantis tried to link undocumented immigrants and child molesters (really)—but without doubt the headline moment came when the moderator asked DeSantis about his relationship with notorious racist David Horowitz.
As moderator Todd McDermott read off some of Horowitz’s more appalling comments, such as that “the country’s only serious race war” is against whites, DeSantis broke in: “How in the hell am I supposed to know every single statement someone makes?” He went on with some blah blah blah about fighting alongside black people during his time in the military—that’s his official not-a-racist talking point, that he worked with black people in a setting in which he had no choice but to do so—but let’s talk about “how in the hell am I supposed to know every single statement someone makes.” Because that is David Horowitz’s brand. You don’t need to know every single statement he made to know that some of them are going to be that racist. It’s like two thirds of the way to being surprised to learn that Richard Spencer has made racist statements.
But this is where Andrew Gillum lowered the boom:
“My grandmother used to say a hit dog will holler. He has neo-Nazis helping him out in this state. He has spoken at racist conferences. He has accepted a contribution and would not return it from someone who referred to the former president of the United States as a Muslim n-i-g-g-e-r,” he spelled out.
“Now I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist. I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist.”
You can forget all that other stuff, that was the moment. Gillum is a proud believer in climate change. He believes that “Simply because you are a brown-skinned person, or you speak a language that may be of foreign tongue to Mr. DeSantis, or you may live in a neighborhood that may include more brown people, that doesn’t in of itself subject you to racial profiling.” He supports affordable health care. That stuff is all incredibly important. But that right there is why Andrew Gillum is a voice the Democratic Party and the state of Florida and the United States of America so desperately need.