Rep. Ron DeSantis Wednesday went on the attack against Democratic gubernatorial challenger Andrew Gillum, saying in a Fox News interview that "the last thing we need to do is monkey this up" by embracing the Tallahassee African-American mayor's "socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state."
"Florida elections are always competitive," DeSantis, who was backed by President Donald Trump in the primary, told Fox News' "America's Newsroom" co-host Sandra Smith.
"This is a guy who, although he is much too liberal for Florida, he has huge problems with how he has governed Tallahassee. He is an articulate spokesman for the far left views and a charismatic candidate."
DeSantis added he watched the Democratic debates, and that Gillum performed better than the other candidates, but at the same time, said the state has to build from the successes it had under Gov. Rick Scott, who is running against Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson this fall, after being term-limited as governor.
"We have to work hard to make sure we continue Florida going in a good direction," said DeSantis, adding that Gillum's agenda won't work for Florida.
The lawmaker credited his win after a debate on Fox News, when he was able to profile himself as n Iraq veteran with a record of "principled conservative leadership."
""That allowed people to size us up," he said. "I think the combination of the president doing the tweet on June 22, the debate on Fox and then us finally starting to spend money on television advertising. I had $12 million dumped on me. We started to spend money and hit our stride."
DeSantis also pointed out that he got nearly twice as many votes as Gillum, bringing in close to a million votes to Gillum's 500,000.
"The vast majority of Democratic primary voters rejected him last night and so he has a lot of work to do just to get his party on board," said DeSantis.
"I think that he had grassroots energy. I think some of the other candidates were overrated and he was able to capitalize off that. There is a difference between getting some of the Bernie Sanders people to vote for you in a primary and then going to the broader Florida [race]. I think we'll be successful."
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