Adam Putnam said Monday he remains opposed to removing Confederate monuments, including the one situated in front of the Old Capitol in Tallahassee.
“The important thing is for our society to rise up and stand together and send a clear statement that (hate) won’t be tolerated in this country,” said Putnam, speaking to reporters after meeting with supporters at a Temple Terrace restaurant.
“It’s far more important to focus on eradicating hate today than focus on sanitizing history. The issues today are what we should be focused on. And when we see that type of ugliness in our society, whether it’s in Charlottesville, or Gainesville, or anywhere else, it’s important that we call it for what it is.”
Putnam was asked if that meant he disagreed with the Hillsborough County Commission voting to relocate a 106-year-old statue currently located in front of a county courthouse annex in Tampa.
“What it means is that I am entirely focused on sending a clear message that we don’t tolerate hate, and we don’t tolerate anti-Semitism, and we don’t tolerate white supremacy, and we don’t tolerate bigotry of any kind of any form,” he replied, declining to specifically address the situation in Hillsborough County.
“It’s also important that we apply the lessons of history today and the future,” he added. “If you don’t know your history you’re going to repeat the mistakes of the past. I think it’s important that people know the horrors of the Holocaust. I think it’s important that people know the horrors of what happened on 9/11. It’s important that we learn what happens to the world, when evil is allowed to prevail.”
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat who is also running for governor, has called on Governor Rick Scott to remove the Confederate monument from the Capitol ever since the violence in Charlottesville occurred nine days ago. When Putnam was asked last week if he agreed with Gillum, he said he was not aware of the statue’s existence.
Gillum chided Putnam for that remark on MSNBC on Sunday.
“My response to that is, what a luxurious place to be,” Gillum told host Joy Reid. “The fact that you don’t have to be aware that these kinds of symbol of division and derision greet people as they enter the Old Capitol.”
The gubernatorial field has increased in the past week with Clearwater state Senator Jack Latvala formally entering the race. Putnam declined to speak about Latvala and, instead, said he was focused on his “positive, conservative vision for the future of Florida and who believe that my agricultural experience and public service combined to provide the type of leadership that Florida needs.”
Latvala and others have been criticized Putnam for his rush to demonstrate his fealty to the NRA, including tweeting that he was a “proud sell-out to the NRA.” Putnam said Monday he wouldn’t back away from his strong advocacy for the organization.
“I’m a lifelong supporter of the Second Amendment,” he said. “I’m a life member. All my kids are life members. My son got a shotgun for his baptism present. It’s no secret to anyone that I’m a pro gun candidate and a pro gun individual. Even if I wasn’t running for governor, it’d be no secret that I support Second Amendment rights and the NRA.”
Putnam chatted with reporters following a 25-minute version of his basic stump speech at Lupton’s Buffet in what his campaign said was the 13th “Up & Adam” campaign breakfast since he announced his gubernatorial candidacy back in May. The speech again touched on his revised pitch about Florida being a “reward for a life well lived someplace else.”
“I think and I believe that with your help, if we put Florida first, we’ll make Florida the launch pad for the American dream, instead of just the Cherry on top,” he said.
Among those in attendance to hear Putnam included Attorney General Pam Bondi, House District 58 Republican candidate Yvonne Fry and former Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober.