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Republican presidential hopefuls blast DeSantis over slavery standards

Black Republicans and fellow GOP presidential hopefuls continue to slam Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over new standards for how Black history is taught in Florida schools.

The social studies standards, which DeSantis has repeatedly defended, include teaching middle-schoolers that “slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

On Sunday, Will Hurd, a former Republican congressman from Texas who is also running for the Republican presidential nomination, said that “slavery is not a jobs program.”

“Anybody that is implying that there was an upside to slavery is insane,” Hurd said on NBC News’s “Meet the Press.”

Hurd said he was surprised that DeSantis continues to voice support for the standards, but called his behavior “one more part of a fact pattern of Ron DeSantis being mean and hateful.”

“It’d be hard to make the case, if Ron DeSantis was the Republican nominee, that folks in Black and Brown communities should support him,” Hurd said when asked whether DeSantis has “disqualified himself.” “Folks in the LGBTQ community won’t support him because of his hateful rhetoric toward all my friends in the LGBTQ community.”

In response to a request for comment, DeSantis’s campaign forwarded a tweet featuring comments the governor made Friday, saying he was “defending my state of Florida against false accusations and against lies.”

DeSantis is parrying the criticism over Florida schools as he is struggling to reboot his campaign after falling flat in public polls of the GOP presidential race, which is dominated by Donald Trump.

Over the past week, the governor has faced criticism from multiple Black Republicans over his decision to defend the controversial curriculum issued by the state Board of Education. While DeSantis first sought to distance himself from the standards, earlier this month, he said the curriculum is “probably going to show” that “some of the folks that eventually parlayed, you know, being a blacksmith into doing things later in life.”

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), the only Black Republican representing Florida in Congress, has pushed back against the curriculum, tweeting that “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 [the Florida Department of Education] will correct this,” Donalds said.

The new Florida standards also drew a rebuke from Vice President Harris. During a visit to the state this month, she emphasized that slavery involved rape, torture and “some of the worst examples of depriving people of humanity in our world.” DeSantis has dismissed Harris’s remarks, accusing her in a statement of lying “about Florida’s educational standards to cover for their agenda of indoctrinating students and pushing sexual topics onto children.”

Other Republican presidential candidates also criticized DeSantis’s stance Sunday.

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy told CNN’s “State of the Union” that while he hasn’t read the curriculum in detail, “obviously, we should be teaching kids about the awful legacy of slavery.”

“But even more importantly, we’re not teaching them enough about the ideals that actually do define this country,” he said. “Personally, I think the deeper problem in our schools today is many of them teaching young Black kids, students and minorities that they’re oppressed based on the color of their skin or their genetic attributes. That’s the real psychological slavery in the present, and that’s what I have the biggest problem with.”

And Nikki Haley, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who is also running for president, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that, in the 21st century, “we can all agree that there … were no positives that came out of slavery.”

“[DeSantis] should come out and say no positives came out of slavery,” she said. “I think that’s what these Republicans and Democrats have asked him to say. We’ll see what he does.”

On Friday, presidential candidate Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.), the only Black Republican in the U.S. Senate, also rebuked DeSantis while speaking to reporters on the campaign trail in Iowa.

“As a country founded upon freedom, the greatest deprivation of freedom was slavery,” Scott said. “There is no silver lining … in slavery. … What slavery was really about [was] separating families, about mutilating humans and even raping their wives. It was just devastating. So, I would hope that every person in our country — and certainly running for president — would appreciate that.”

Later Friday, during a campaign stop in Iowa, DeSantis seemingly took a swipe at Scott, who is currently seen as his strongest rival to challenge Trump for the GOP nomination. Asked what he thought about Scott’s comments, DeSantis said that “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.”

He did not elaborate on what lies he was accusing Scott of accepting.

John Wagner contributed to this report.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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