Andrew Gillum said Thursday that Ron DeSantis needs to put some “respect” on his name, after the former congressman continually referred to the Tallahassee mayor by his first name during the two contentious debates for Florida governor.
Speaking to a crowd of college students at historically black Florida Memorial University Thursday afternoon, Gillum asked a half-full auditorium if they’d seen Wednesday night’s debate at Broward College. The audience cheered.
“Thank you. At one point I started to feel bad for him. Not really, but really!” Gillum said. “I felt surely somebody prepared him a little bit better than this to come on this stage and have nothing to say about what he wants to do for the people of the state of Florida.”
Gillum, who also debated DeSantis Sunday on CNN, mockingly pointed out that his opponent, a former congressman, continued to call him “Andrew” on stage in both events — a decision that some politicos found to be poor form. Gillum generally referred to DeSantis, a congressman who resigned his post shortly after winning the GOP nomination for governor, as either Mr. DeSantis or congressman.
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“I met him for the first time the other night and then all of a sudden, without invitation, he was calling me only as Andrew. Between the two of us, he quit his job in Congress, I’m a sitting mayor, and he had the nerve to address me only as Andrew?” Gillum said. “I wanted to correct him, y’all, but I didn’t want to be petty. So, we just we pushed all the way through.”
The DeSantis campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Gillum appeared at Florida Memorial University’s Miami Gardens campus Thursday as part of a South Florida campus tour. He spoke to students following a morning appearance at Florida International University, and was introduced at FMU by U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights activist who cuts a large figure in Congress.
The event ended with a DJ playing a trap Gillum campaign song over the PA system.
Gillum, who graduated from historically black Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, made a point earlier in the speech to mention that he was a FAMU Rattler. And he evoked his alma mater while talking about his beef with DeSantis calling him Andrew.
“I can tell you there was a little bit of Rattler in my ear. Just hissing at me to call him out,” he said. “But you know had the situation been reversed I never would have ever reduced myself to referring to him in such familiar terms.”