Miami Native Running for Rubio's Senate Seat Calls Obama an "Animal"

In his short time campaigning for Marco Rubio's Senate seat, Miami native Carlos Beruff has already earned his nickname — the Cuban-American Donald Trump — with extreme positions such as a call to end travel from the Middle East to the United States. 

So it shouldn't be the shock of the century that the wealthy developer is back in the national news for spewing offensive remarks. What is a shock is that, in 2016, a candidate for higher office believes it's OK to call an African-American an "animal" on the campaign trail.

That's exactly what Beruff did at a meeting of the St. John's County Republican Executive Committee last week. In fact, he called President Obama an "animal" twice in the same sentence as an opposition researcher filmed.

"Unfortunately, for seven and a half years, this animal we call president — because he's an animal — has for seven and a half years, has surgically and with thought and very intelligent manner, has destroyed this country," Beruff says.

Put aside for a second the gaping logic in that one small sentence. (How exactly can a guy be a dumb animal while also using a "very intelligent manner" to "surgically" destroy the country?)  

The more important question is how a guy drawing sizable GOP crowds in a bid for the U.S. Senate cannot understand why his comment is a problem. (Beruff has refused to apologize. We've emailed his campaign for comment; we'll update this post if we hear back.)   

Does Beruff not know about the centuries of dehumanizing language used against African-Americans, particularly comparing them to animals? Does he not care about adding to that legacy of hate speech in the most public of settings?

And just as disturbing: How does no one in this roomful of adults listening to Beruff object to such blatant racism? In fact, listen closely and you'll hear someone in the front row guffaw at the remark. 

To be fair, Beruff's GOP rival, Rep. David Jolly, immediately scolded him, saying that "referring to the president of the United States as an 'animal' is an alarming insult of questionable intent and has no place in American politics. Carlos should immediately apologize."

But Beruff is appealing to a base that's ready to vote Donald Trump into the White House. Barely veiled racist epithets are the new bread and butter of the GOP campaign trail.
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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink