TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Republican Congressman Ron DeSantis comments Wednesday morning after the Florida primary election, talking to Fox News about his opponent, Andrew Gillum, prompted some faith leaders in Tallahassee to demand an apology.
More than a dozen met at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church Friday morning.
Reverend Dr. R.B. Holmes, Junior, said while the Congressman did not call Mayor Gillum a "monkey," the term has been used historically in a "very derogatory context."
He said the president's endorsement of DeSantis shouldn't influence the Congressman's rhetoric.
Reverend Holmes said the local faith community encourages all candidates to run campaigns that unite, not divide.
"Congressman DeSantis has to be responsible for his own words and his own language, because language does matter," said Rev. Holmes. "Because this is a national conversation around the term 'monkey this up,' I pray to God that he will understand that many of the people he is asking to vote for him are offended."
Other faith leaders said this is an opportunity to rally supporters of Gillum to go to the polls in November in record numbers.
DeSantis responded to the allegations on Sean Hannity's show.
Andrew Gillum also responded to the allegations.
"He's apparently given up the whistle. They've gone to the bullhorn with these kinds of tactics, but they're not going to work. We tried this one time: Donald Trump. This is a page from his playbook," said Gillum. "Basically tried to divide this country and my state. And I want them to know that Florida voters are smarter than that, that we're going to reject the politics of separation."
DeSantis and Gillum will face off in the race for Governor during the November general elections.
Early voting for that begins Oct. 27.