Speed Reads

2018 elections

Florida's 2nd gubernatorial debate turns into fracas on race and corruption, with memorable one-liners

Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis held their second and final Florida gubernatorial debate on Wednesday night, and their hour-long face-off touched on a lot of policy issues — gun safety, minimum wage, immigration, and education. But the debate ultimately "boiled down to two issues: race and corruption," Politico reports.

On race, DeSantis appeared to get flustered when moderator Todd McDermott asked him about his associations with white supremacists and financial backers who used racist language. He interrupted McDermott to call his unfinished question "McCarthyist" and suggest incorrectly that McDermott was wrong about racist statements David Horowitz made at a conference DeSantis participated in. "How the hell am I supposed to know every single statement somebody makes?" DeSantis said when McDermott noted that Horowitz had indeed made the comments at the conference. "I am not going to bow down to the altar of political correctness."

Gillum, who is black, was ready. "My grandmother used to say, 'A hit dog will holler,' and it hollered through this room," he said. "I'm not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist. I'm simply saying the racists believe he's a racist." Gillum's campaign was evidently pleased with that line, as it posted the clip on Twitter.

Gillum was on the defensive, however, over newly released text messages showing he received a free Hamilton ticket from an undercover FBI agent investigating alleged corruption in Tallahassee, where Gillum is mayor. DeSantis accused him of lying about the ticket, but Gillum said he was handed it by his brother Marcus, believing Marcus had gotten them from friend and lobbyist Adam Corey in exchange for Jay Z-Beyonce tickets. "I should have asked more questions to make sure that everything that had transpired was above board," he said. But "we got 99 problems and Hamilton ain't one of them."