DeSantis responds to latest racial controversy while campaigning in South Florida

'I'm not responsible for it,' DeSantis says of racist tweet by donor

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Ron DeSantis, the Republican candidate for Florida governor, was campaigning Thursday in South Florida. 

But the Republican's meeting with students was overshadowed by another controversy involving race.

This time, it involved a campaign supporter and donor who used the n-word to describe President Barack Obama. 

The tweet was fired off by a Republican activist and campaign donor.

"(Expletive) the Muslim n*****," the tweet read. 

The tweet, first reported by Politico, was sent by a supporter who has donated more than $20,000 to DeSantis over the years. 

"I'm not in any way surprised he did that," DeSantis told reporters. "I'm not responsible for it. (I) reject it. We're focused on our message and we're focusing on what we're putting out."

DeSantis disavowed the remark and described the tweet as a "side controversy." 

"Didn't you begin the controversies though with your 'monkey this up' remark?" one reporter asked DeSantis.

"No, because that's been demagogued," DeSantis responded. "I mean, what I said was that I didn't want to drop an f-bomb on national TV, but I really think socialist policies will mess up the state's economic direction. There was zero racial about it. I was very clear about that." 

DeSantis was at Florida International University to meet with college Republicans. 

He was joined by his running mate, Jeanette Nunez, an FIU graduate and Cuban-American. The two are trying to win the Hispanic vote by painting Democratic opponent Andrew Gillum as a socialist -- a label the Democrat said isn't supported by his position on issues.  

"I think Jeanette and I, you know, we've done a good job of energizing the Cuban-American vote," DeSantis said. "We're going to be working very hard to appeal to Venezuelans and Colombians and Nicaraguans." 

A new Reuters poll shows Gillum with a 6-point lead over DeSantis. An average polls show his lead at around 4 points.