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Report: Ron DeSantis spoke at racially charged conference four times

Desantis herald
Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis speaks during an afternoon campaign stop at The Compass Rose in Valparaiso, Fla., on Saturday, June 9, 2018, with Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. Michael Snyder Northwest Florida Daily News via AP

Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis made speeches in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017 at an annual right wing conference hosted by an activist who has said that African-Americans owe their freedom to white people and that the country’s “only serious race war” is against whites, according to a report by the Washington Post.

The Post reports that the David Horowitz Freedom Center conferences, called "Restoration Weekends," took place in Palm Beach and Charleston, S.C., and featured highly controversial speakers such as: a former Google engineer who was fired after arguing that there are fewer women in technology fields and leadership in part because of "biological causes;" an author who has written that "Europe is committing suicide" by allowing refugees and immigrants to enter its borders; and a British media personality who said that in the United Kingdom, "discrimination against whites is institutionalized and systemic."

Only one of these appearances, the one last year, had been previously reported by the Naples Daily News. DeSantis' financial disclosure forms show that the center reimbursed DeSantis for meals and a luxury hotel stay in Palm Beach that year.

Horowitz himself also has a list of racially charged comments in his past, including a recent tweet that "Black Africans enslaved black Africans. America freed them sacrificing 350k mainly white Union lives. American blacks are richer, more privileged, freer than blacks anywhere in the world, including all black run countries."

Horowitz also tweeted that "the country's only serious race war (is) against whites."

For DeSantis' part, his speeches at the events largely focused on criticizing Democratic policies. But in 2015, DeSantis praised Horowitz in his remarks, according to the Post.

"David has done such great work and I’ve been an admirer," he reportedly said. "I’ve been to these conferences in the past but I’ve been a big admirer of an organization that shoots straight, tells the American people the truth and is standing up for the right thing."

DeSantis' congressional spokeswoman, Elizabeth Fusick, told the Washington Post that DeSantis doesn't "buy into this 'six degrees of Kevin Bacon' notion that he is responsible for the views and speeches of others."

The Palm Coast congressman's views on race have taken center stage in the race for governor, as he battles against the Democratic nominee, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum — who is the first black nominee for governor by a major party in Florida's history.

The day after primary night, DeSantis said on Fox News that Gillum is an "articulate" spokesman for the left wing, and that "the last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda."

Since then, race has remained an ugly cloud over the campaigns.