JACKSONVILLE, FL—Facing backlash for warning voters not to “monkey this up” and vote for his black political opponent, Andrew Gillum, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis held a press conference Thursday to clarify that his comments were intended as a subtle enough dog whistle to racists that he could escape blame. “Many of my critics on the left fail to understand that my words were simply meant to fly under the radar and reach an intended audience without repercussions,” said DeSantis, lamenting that his code words caused a media firestorm when his only objective was to target a specific bigoted group that agreed with the message. “This whole media outcry is, frankly, overblown. People are acting like I threw out an actual racial slur when what I actually said was a harmless piece of rhetoric that’s been used to dehumanize black people for centuries. If anything, folks should be upset that ‘monkey this up’ isn’t a real idiom.” DeSantis concluded his press conference by issuing an apology to “Mayor Gillum and his family” followed by a sly wink.