Just as his presidential campaign was “rebooting,” Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis decided to repeatedly attack two Black Republicans who had gently pushed back against his education curriculum on slavery.
Black conservatives are “livid.”
Politico reports “several prominent Black conservatives…told POLITICO they fear the issue will play into Democrats’ characterization of Republicans as favoring a whitewashing of American history. Most saw it as an unforced error at the time when Black Republicans feel they’ve been making significant strides within the party.”
On Friday, DeSantis blamed America’s struggles on “D.C. Republicans” when asked about criticism from U.S. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, who denounced DeSantis’ new education policy. That policy mandates middle school students must be taught that enslaved people “developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
The only elected D.C. Republicans who have spoken out against his education policy on slavery are Senator Scott and U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida.
The governor, who is under pressure to correct his flailing presidential campaign, on Friday managed to accuse both Republican lawmakers – along with Vice President Kamala Harris, of telling “lies.”
Senator Scott, a fellow GOP presidential candidate, on Thursday disagreed with DeSantis’ mandate.
“As a country founded upon freedom, the greatest deprivation of freedom was slavery. There is no silver lining … in slavery,” Scott said, as NBC News reported.
“What slavery was really about was separating families, about mutilating humans and even raping their wives. It was just devastating,” Scott said. “So I would hope that every person in our country — and certainly running for president — would appreciate that.”
“People have bad days,” Sen. Scott generously offered. “Sometimes they regret what they say. And we should ask them again to clarify their positions.”
On Friday, DeSantis was asked to do so, and went on the attack.
After pausing for a moment to chuckle when asked specifically about Sen. Scott’s remarks, Gov. DeSantis blamed America’s struggles on Republicans in Washington.
“You know, I think part of the reason our country has struggled is because D.C. Republicans all too often accept false narratives, accept lies that are perpetrated by the left and accept the lie that Kamala Harris has been perpetrating, even when that has been debunked,” he told a reporter.
DeSantis also appeared to criticize Sen. Scott’s leadership skills.
“That’s not the way you do it,” DeSantis said. “The way you do it, the way you lead is to fight back against the lies, is to speak the truth. And so I’m here defending my state of Florida against false accusations and against lies, and we’re going to continue to speak the truth.”
Also this week Congressman Donalds expressed frustration with the DeSantis campaign after he, also generously, gave his home state governor an opportunity to walk back his stated support of the slavery standards.
“The new African-American standards in FL are good, robust, & accurate,” Donalds said Wednesday morning via social media. “That being said, the attempt to feature the personal benefits of slavery is wrong & needs to be adjusted. That obviously wasn’t the goal & I have faith that FLDOE will correct this.”
It was a gracious gesture, and Donalds put the entire blame of the Florida Dept. of Education – as DeSantis also did recently – and, like Scott, gave the governor an out.
But by Wednesday afternoon, things got heated.
“JUST IN: DeSantis officials slam @ByronDonalds after he agrees with criticisms of African American history standards,” Florida’s Voice tweeted.
Quoting the campaign, it added: “We will not back down from teaching our nation’s true history at the behest of a woke @WhiteHouse, nor at the behest of a supposedly conservative congressman.”
Donalds, clearly frustrated, responded.
“What’s crazy to me is I expressed support for the vast majority of the new African American history standards and happened to oppose one sentence that seemed to dignify the skills gained by slaves as a result of their enslavement,” he wrote. “Anyone who can’t accurately interpret what I said is disingenuous and is desperately attempting to score political points.”
“Just another reason why l’m proud to have endorsed President Donald J. Trump!” an exasperated Donalds added.
And on Thursday, as Politico reports, when asked about Congressman Donalds’ remarks, DeSantis went on the attack, just as he did against Scott on Friday.
“At the end of the day, you got to choose: Are you going to side with Kamala Harris and liberal media outlets or are you going to side with the state of Florida?” DeSantis asked.
“To some prominent Black Republicans,” Politico adds, referring to DeSantis’ divisive attack on Donalds, including lumping him in with the Vice President, “it was a DeSantis misstep. And one that comes as his campaign is attempting to jump-start its flagging operation.”
Diante Johnson, president of the Black Conservative Federation, told Politico the battle between DeSantis and Donalds “raises eyebrows.”
“It’s just not a good position for the DeSantis campaign to take. And they’re doubling down and that’s what’s even more disgusting.”
“Ron DeSantis is not the candidate for Black conservatives and that’s what [he] constantly, constantly exhibits to us.”