Saying he believes that “If we ignore it we allow it to grow,” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King said Thursday that protests of white supremacist Richard Spencer‘s speech in Gainesville are important.

King, a Winter Park developer of affordable and senior housing, said he is attending a protest rally at the University of Florida Thursday in the company of Central Florida faith leaders, seeking to promote the message that Floridians are ready to rise above any message that Spencer may give

“It’s a real opportunity for Floridians to say, ‘We’re better than this,'” King told FloridaPolitics.com.

He said he plans to watch and observe what is going on, “So I can better speak out to the people I’m trying to serve on these issues.”

At the same time King stressed that any messages of hatred and bigotry that Spencer may espouse at the University of Florida must be met, challenged, and disputed as wrong.

He said he respected those who say it would be better to ignore Spencer and not give his appearance attention, but said he believes that’s not a good option in today’s social climate.

“In a different cultural context we might be able to ignore, and it wouldn’t get much publicity and it wouldn’t get much attention,” King said. “But unfortunately, because of what is going on nationally, and because of the language often that has been used or tolerated by the president of the United States, this stuff gets an enormous amount of attention and energy.

“I feel if we just simply ignore it we allow it to grow,” he added.

King also stressed his visit to the Gainesville opposition protests is a part of his campaign as governor, and his desire to be consistent in his message opposing discrimination and hatred, and said that candidates need to speak out. In a statement he posted on his website and Facebook page, King called such a message an obligation of candidates, and declared that there are times it goes beyond just talk. “Sometimes actions speak louder than words,” he wrote. “This is one of those times.”

“Whether we’re talking about communities of color, the Jewish community, or the LGBTQ community, all of which have been vilified by the neo-Nazis and white supremacists, if I just ignore it [the supremacist rhetoric] I feel I really let a lot of people down whom I’m trying to serve.”

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