Donald Trump Archives - Page 3 of 351 - Florida Politics

In new ad, Bill Nelson depicts Rick Scott as Donald Trump’s ‘amigo’

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson‘s reelection campaign released two television ads Wednesday evening.

One, titled “Amigo,” is a Spanish-language spot that claims President Donald Trump and Nelson’s Republican challenger, Gov. Rick Scott, are just that: amigos.

Translated from Spanish, the opening lines of the 30-second ad: “Tell me who you hang out with, and I will tell you who you are. Rick Scott and Donald Trump are great/close friends/pals.”

The ad debuts as some speculate Scott is attempting to distance himself from Trump. A POLITICO story on Monday noted the term-limited Governor is campaigning alongside old-school Republicans like former President George W. Bush.

Accompanying “Amigo” is another 30-second television spot titled “Know.” The ad attempts to call Scott’s environmental record into question. It also highlights Scott’s association with a company fined for Medicaid fraud.

Both ads make the claim that “you just can’t trust” Scott.

News of these ads followed two national groups on Wednesday putting an untold sum behind negative digital ads targeting Scott.

Latest polling of the high profile race suggests the two candidates are neck and neck. A Wednesday forecast from elections analysis group FiveThirtyEight put the race as a tossup.

Watch the two ads below:

Progressive group’s poll cautions Bill Nelson against voting for Brett Kavanaugh

A progressive group is touting the results of a Florida poll it commissioned as a warning to Florida’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson to not vote to confirm President Donald Trump‘s U.S. Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The poll by YouGov Blue on behalf of Demand Justice suggests that politically, for the upcoming Nov. 6 election, Nelson might find little to gain and potentially some votes to lose if he votes for Kavanaugh.

In Florida, 80 percent of undecided voters answered that their vote would not be impacted if Nelson decides to oppose Kavanaugh, according to a news release issued by Demand Justice. On the other hand, the survey finds that 31 percent of Florida Democrats say they would be less likely to vote for Nelson if he votes to confirm Kavanaugh.

Influence Watch notes that Demand Justice was formed earlier this year as a non-profit social welfare organization which hosts a number of similar advocacy groups advocating for a progressive-politics agenda, and emerged as one of the leading opposition groups to Kavanaugh’s nomination.

The poll of 451 likely Florida voters was conducted Aug. 24-Sept. 1, and YouGov Blue cites a margin of error of 4.9 percent.

“The numbers show that opposing Kavanaugh is not just the right thing to do, it is also the politically smart move for Nelson’s reelection,” Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice, stated in a news release. “Voters in Florida are saying they do not want a judge who would overturn protections for preexisting conditions. If Senator Nelson votes for Kavanaugh, it won’t gain him any undecided voters but it could cause a lot of his core supporters to stay home in November.”

Sean Pittman: Far-left labels don’t apply to Andrew Gillum

If you believe the conventional wisdom of the Florida Governor’s race, voters have a stark choice between a Bernie Sanders Democrat and a Donald Trump Republican.

Andrew Gillum, who recently chose his primary opponent Chris King as his running mate, is indeed running against Republican Congressman and presidential acolyte, Ron DeSantis, with Jeanette Nunez for Lieutenant Governor.

It is indeed a glaring political contrast, but not in the way the DeSantis camp would have you believe.

I can’t speak for the Republicans — and won’t. However, the far-out description doesn’t fit Gillum, and it shouldn’t fly as campaign fodder in the November election.

Yes, Sanders did come to Florida and endorse Gillum. But, Gillum was a Hillary Clinton surrogate during the 2016 campaign and made her short list for running mate. Gillum was part of a four-member effort in Tallahassee that raised $500,000 for Obama’s first run as president in 2008.

Now, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is with Gillum as brother-in-arms; his primary opponent, Gwen Graham, the daughter of former Governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, told Gillum to “go out and win the d— thing” as part of her endorsement. State Sen. Lauren Book, the daughter of one of the capitol’s most influential lawyer/lobbyists, also made the shortlist for Gillum’s running mate.

If you know Florida politics, this is not exactly the makings of a leftist cabal.

Besides those who support him, Gillum’s record as Tallahassee Mayor doesn’t suggest a socialist ideology either. In fact, the mayor-turned-gubernatorial candidate has pushed sensible policies that have fostered growth and development in the state’s capital city.

As Mayor, Gillum got rid of business license fees, revised the permitting process to make it more timely and refunded utility deposits to businesses in good standing. The changes made Tallahassee a better place for business and home to Florida’s fastest growing economy.

But, what about all that support from George Soros and Tom Steyer, the two billionaires most identified with progressive causes? Gillum may share political beliefs with the two, but he also appreciates the support from them and the full range of Floridians backing his campaign.

The reality is that many of these so-called progressive issues are becoming more mainstream by the day. Poll after poll shows a majority of Americans favor “Medicare-for-All.” People actually want affordable and accessible health care, including many Republicans who see the value in Medicare and Medicaid expansion as a way to improve medical services and lower drug prices.

Raising the minimum wage in Florida fails the radical-left standard, too.

You don’t need a poll, although several do show Floridians think the current state minimum wage of $8.25 needs to be raised, given our low-wage economy makes it difficult to make ends meet with only one job.

So, while it may be easy to mischaracterize Gillum as a member of the radical fringe, it’s just not true. Facts suggest otherwise.

As the campaign goes on, more and more Floridians will see Gillum for who for who use he is — a pragmatic candidate whose common-sense ideas are welcome by the voters and much more mainstream than many pundits think.

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Sean Pittman is the senior partner of the Pittman Law Group, a Tallahassee-based law firm and co-host of Sunday morning television talk show “The Usual Suspects.”

Bill Nelson: Rick Scott ‘is a creature of Trump’

In the past week or so, President Donald Trump‘s presence in statewide Florida Republican election politics may have all but vanished, leading Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson on Monday to essentially say that his opponent Gov. Rick Scott might run but can’t hide from his past with Trump.

“My opponent is acting as if Trump has the plague. You can’t turn away from being a creature of Trump, which is exactly what he is,” Nelson said.

Nelson was responding to a question about whether he expected his campaign would push the message that Scott and Trump have been close now that polls show Trump with a low popularity among independent voters, and that Republican candidates such as Scott do not seem to be highlighting their relationships in recent events. In particular, at a campaign kickoff for state candidates last week in Orlando, there was only one fleeting reference to Trump during an hour of speeches, and it did not come from Scott.

Scott’s campaign spokesman Chris Hartline responded by writing, “Gov. Scott supports the President when his policies help Florida and disagrees with him when they hurt our state. We were happy to welcome Vice President [Mike] Pence to Florida literally last week to campaign for us.”

The senator did not explicitly say his campaign was going to seek to make hay of Scott’s relationship with Trump, but he sought to spell it out Monday.

“Trump urged him to get into the race. They have been buddy-buddies for years. He’s tried to implement Trump’s policies on killing the Affordable Care Act, on denying climate change and sea level rise, you name it. What Trump has done, he has embraced it,” Nelson said.

“And all of the sudden he sees that Trump may not be so popular and so all of the sudden he has changed his complexion 180 degrees,” Nelson added.

Whom do you believe: Andrew Gillum or his Michael Cohen?

Let’s give Andrew Gillum the benefit of the doubt.

When he says that the FBI told him he is not the target of an investigation into the city of Tallahassee, it’s pretty easy to believe him because, from the surface level, it appears City Commissioner Scott Maddox is the politician with the crosshairs trained on him.

To refresh: Gillum has been linked to the FBI investigation thanks to his ties to Adam Corey. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, Corey, a lobbyist and entrepreneur, has been named in at least three subpoenas related to the public corruption probe. Corey’s $2.1 million loan in local tax money to renovate the Tallahassee-based Edison Restaurant is part of the FBI probe.

Gillum has steadfastly maintained that he is not the subject of the federal inquiry and that he has cooperated with investigators, turning over thousands of pages of documents.

As clumsy as it was, Gillum’s effort to publicly release receipts that he says show he paid for travel that is currently under investigation by the state’s ethics commission has reduced the affair, at least politically, to just another case of whataboutism.

When Republicans suggest that those receipts do nothing to shed light on Gillum’s luxury trips to Costa Rica and New York City with lobbyists and undercover FBI agents, Gillum’s campaign gets to blast Ron DeSantis for backing Donald Trump‘s undermining of the FBI’s probe into Russian electoral collusion.

“You’ve got a Republican in Ron DeSantis who’s spent the last year obstructing the FBI, attacking the FBI and trying to discredit the FBI. And now he has the gall to talk about an FBI investigation that Andrew Gillum has been cooperating with and trying to help them resolve. They’ll attack us on that, and we’ll go right back at it,” Scott Arceneaux, a former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party who’s a senior consultant on Gillum’s campaign, told the News Service Florida.

To bottom line it: The FBI investigation into Gillum’s City Hall is mitigated by the FBI investigation into Trump’s White House. This is part of the reason why the first round of public polls is deadlocked while showing intensity among each candidate’s political base.

But here’s what is still concerning about Gillum and those receipts: has he left himself vulnerable to a perjury charge?

Immediately after Gillum disclosed bank records to show he withdrew $400 to pay for his share of the $1,400-a-night Costa Rica villa that was shared by several couples, an attorney for Corey disputed that account, according to Gary Fineout of The Associated Press.

The attorney said Corey won the Costa Rica lodging through a charity auction and “to date Mr. Corey has not received any cash from the mayor.” He added that Corey did not purchase or swap for a ticket to the Broadway show “Hamilton,” which Gillum and his brother took in as part of their trip to New York City.

“The idea that Marcus Gillum would have exchanged something for the ‘Hamilton’ ticket is nonsense,” Corey’s attorney, Christopher Kise, told Fineout.

So, again, let’s concede that Gillum isn’t the target of the FBI investigation. Let’s even concede that, in the end, even if it finds Gillum responsible for something involving that travel, the state’s ethics commission really doesn’t have the teeth to bite him.

And, finally, let’s concede that even if the ethics commission does ultimately fault Gillum, it won’t matter a lick with those supporting him because they’re as against DeSantis/Trump as they are for Gillum.

All of that is conceded. But the issue still remains: Gillum provided testimony to state investigators that he paid Adam Corey cash for that trip to Costa Rica. Gillum provided testimony to state investigators that his brother had obtained a ticket to Hamilton in a swap for a concert ticket.

Corey, who has been a friend to Gillum their entire adult lives and who once served as Gillum’s campaign treasurer, is publicly stating that is a lie.

This leaves the situation with three possibilities.

One, Gillum is telling the complete truth, Corey is lying and the investigation will bear that out. Gillum essentially wins.

Two, the truth is somewhere in between what Gillum and Corey are saying and the investigation will conclude without determining who is really telling the truth. Gillum wins by default.

Three, Gillum is lying and Corey has given sworn testimony to the contrary. And he’s able to produce some sort of documentation to undermine Gillum’s statements. Gillum could be in big trouble.

(Update — 7:42 a.m. — I guess there is a fourth possibility. Gillum could be lying, but his statements to investigators were not made under oath and therefore he might lose in the court of public opinion but he would not be in legal jeopardy.)

In an ironic way, the showdown between Gillum and Corey is similar to that of Trump and his former fixer, Michael Cohen, who blew away the president’s credibility by providing federal prosecutors with evidence that Trump was lying.

Might Corey have similar evidence?

What if he has an email from the days when FBI agents weren’t camped out in the capital reminding his then-friend Andrew that he needed the cash for that trip they took to Costa Rica? What if there is a loose text message to Gillum’s brother, Marcus, that contradicts the ticket swap story?

Who knows what is out there.

Right now, Corey is the most intriguing character in Tallahassee. For more than a year, he has walked around town clearly having been taken down several pegs. But he still has that twinkle in his smile and he remains a charismatic figure. He has one of the best-connected lawyers in the state representing him.

And it’s obvious he wants to tell someone — everyone — that he’s not 100 percent to blame for what has gone down in this extraordinary saga.

Everyone assumes Corey has struck a deal with prosecutors.

What he might have had to say as part of a deal could be what decides the fate of Florida’s gubernatorial race.

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Material from The Associated Press and the News Service of Florida was used in this post. 

Mike Hill

Mike Hill’s comeback bid needed every trick in the book

Florida’s primary elections had some shockers, none more so than the surprise win of Andrew Gillum in the Democratic primary for Governor.

Further down the ticket, in the Republican primary for Escambia County’s state House District 1, there was another big upset: Former state Rep. Mike Hill’s 3-point victory over rising GOP star Rebekah Bydlak.

Bydlak had outraised him, outspent him and had picked up the kind of endorsements that usually carry candidates through a GOP primary — the National Rifle Association and term-limited HD 1 Rep. Clay Ingram both endorsed her, and she had an “A” rating from the staunchly anti-abortion group Florida Right to Life.

Polling also indicated Bydlak was ahead of Hill and a look at the vote totals on the Escambia County Supervisor of Elections website shows Bylak held a 52-44 percent lead among early voters, and she and Hill were tied 48-48 percent with mail ballots included.

Hill won Election Day, however, by 5 percentage points. Milton Republican Lisa Doss nearly quadrupled her vote tally to take 9 percent of the ballots cast last Tuesday.

What happened?

Hill’s performance could all be due to his higher name recognition. HD 1 shares a border and media market with his old seat, HD 2, where he won a couple of elections. Two years ago, he also spent nearly $200,000 in campaign dollars running in the SD 1 Republican primary, where he lost by 14 points to now-Sen. Doug Broxson.

But the late break this year toward Hill could also be due to a string of deceitful mailers, disinformation, racially charged and sexist comments, shady campaign stunts and a fake endorsement from President Donald Trump in the closing days of the race.

Hill spent more than $25,000 in hard money on direct mail ads in the final weeks of the race, and nearly all of them smeared Bydlak.

One of Hill’s mailers featured a phony picture of Bydlak smiling alongside 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and claimed Bydlak had been “kicked out of the Republican Party,” didn’t own a house in HD 1, received $100,000 from a member of the anti-Trump establishment tied to billionaire liberal booster George Soros and that she was pro-choice and anti-gun despite her receiving recommendations from groups that would certainly take umbrage if she held those positions.

Another mailer claimed Bydlak and Republican U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan were attacking “conservatives like Mike Hill and President Trump,” and that Bydlak was trying to take down Confederate monuments in Pensacola — no small accusation in the deep-red Panhandle district.

In now-deleted social media posts, Hill also called attention to Amash’s Palestinian heritage, noteworthy because of Hill’s other statements about Islamic people. In early August, Hill tweeted about the “demonic Muslim horde” and retweeted a statement that “Islam is a cancer.”

Also on the list of social media tactics was the use of paid campaign staffers to blast Bydlak for her not having children.

“How can a girl make good solid choices on my children and grandchildren, when she has never raised a family?” Kelly White Seward asked in a Facebook post liked and shared by Hill. Florida Division of Elections records show Seward received $2,000 in payments from Hill’s campaign account during the 2018 cycle.

All the while, Hill has allowed racism to fester on his campaign’s official Facebook page, where his supporters have repeated Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis’ possibly misinterpreted “monkey” comment. More overt: Another supporter responded to a Facebook post Hill made criticizing Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum by saying the Tallahassee Mayor should be “picking cotton.”

While Hill was pouring money into the negative ads and stoking racial tensions, a committee tied to Clearwater Republican Rep. Chris Latvala paid thousands of dollars more for a slate of positive mailers pitching Hill as the “pro-life, pro-guns, pro-Jesus” candidate in the race.

One of the mailers paid for by Latvala’s Suncoast Better Government Committee features a faked picture of Hill next to Trump and strongly insinuates the President had endorsed him — laid over the top of the Hill-Trump photo is a label that says “I like Mike.”

Hill Trump - I Like Mike

Trump did say that phrase in an early August tweet during his spat with NBA superstar LeBron James. But it was an obvious reference to Michael Jordan, whom James is most often compared to in “best ever” arguments.

Hill quoted that tweet, calling it his Trump endorsement.

In a vacuum, that tweet could be viewed as a lighthearted joke, however, the mailers cast doubt on that and toe the line of what is considered legal campaign communications.

Under Florida law, it is illegal “for any candidate or person on behalf of a candidate to represent that any person or organization supports such candidate, unless the person or organization so represented has given specific approval in writing to the candidate to make such representation.” In English: Faking an endorsement is a crime.

If the mailers don’t cross a line, his odd last-minute livestream just might. The Facebook Live video features Hill standing in front of a Confederate monument holding a replica of Trump’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star and teetering between representing it as real and acknowledging it was fake.

“As you can see, Pensacola, I have the Trump star. We’re bringing it here to Pensacola. We’re going to lay it here. Trump is an awesome president and we’re going to show our support and respect for our President. Hollywood doesn’t want his star, we want it here,” Hill says, star in hand.

He then hedges his claim that the star is real by saying, if elected, he’ll “be able to do more to make sure that this star gets here and that it stays here.”

But he again purported to have the real-deal star in a Facebook post made after the livestream.

“We have President Trump’s Hollywood Star! Pensacola is America’s first settlement — where it all began. Fitting that we have our President’s star rejected by leftists. We will honor and protect it!” he wrote.

He used similar wording in an official campaign email sent via MailChimp that went out to the entire Escambia County absentee voter list.

“We have President Trump’s Hollywood Star! Pensacola is America’s first settlement  —where it all began. Fitting that we have our President’s star rejected by Hollywood. We will honor and protect it,” Hill said in the email.

Trump’s Hollywood star was destroyed. Twice. According to Ana Martinez, the Hollywood Walk of Fame’s producer and the vice president of media relations at the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, Hill’s star isn’t the real thing.

“Oh, that’s a fake,” Martinez said after viewing a photo of the star. “They were destroyed with a pickaxe.”

Martinez added that the Hollywood Chamber is in possession of the emblem from the original star and that the second star was essentially reduced to dust — an individual attempted to sell one shard of that star on eBay for $500 but the auction was pulled for violating the site’s rules. A real Walk of Fame star weighs more than 300 pounds, Martinez added. Hill easily lifts his star in the video.

Martinez described Hill’s counterfeit star as an “infringement” and said that the matter would be referred for further investigation.

Just as bizarre as those Walk of Fame claims are statements made by Doss, who entered the primary race just days ahead of the qualifying deadline and raised no money outside of the self-contribution she used to pay the ballot fee. Though it is unconfirmed, there are rumors that Doss was recruited by Hill, who has never won a one-on-one race, to help split the vote in his favor.

Florida Politics attempted to contact Doss but received no response.

According to the financial disclosure she turned in to the Florida Division of Elections, her only income was a $1,248 Social Security disability check while her two bank accounts had a combined balance of $350 on June 18. However, her listed assets also included $3,100 in cash. She used that cash to open her campaign account, leading to an audit by the Division of Election for exceeding the limit on cash contributions. She was also dinged for not listing her occupation, which she later amended to be “disabled.”

Like Hill, Doss used MailChimp to send out her campaign emails while her campaign website, VoteDoss.com, was registered via the same Bulgarian-based web hosting company as Hill’s campaign site: SiteGround.us. Both Hill and Doss paid the $12 fee charged by the company to hide the information of who registered their respective websites, but the servers they are hosted on are in the same Chicago data center.

Hill’s domain was registered on Sept. 16, 2017, though he never reported any expenditures directly related to the website’s registration, creation or upkeep. Doss’ domain was registered on June 30, and the only expenditures she ever reported other than the ballot fee were $75.35 in payments to SiteGround for a “website” and “extra security for website.”

Suspicions were further raised given that Doss’ campaign emails and social media posts used oddly similar language and peddled the same conspiracies as Hill’s — namely that Bydlak was tied to Soros and that she did not own a house in the district.

The latter attack is true, though misleading. Bydlak rents a home within the district and her parents and grandparents also live in the district, same as the past nine generations of her family. The attack that she doesn’t own a home also obscures some history behind her political heritage — the first-ever meeting of the Florida Legislature was actually held within what is now HD 1 in the home of her fifth-great-grandfather, Don Manuel Gonzalez.

Doss also often referred to herself as the middle ground between Bydlak, whom she said was “too liberal,” and Hill, whom she said was “too conservative.” In such a red district, that statement would be more likely to benefit Hill and kneecap Bydlak than to help Doss.

Doss email

Additionally, Doss was a frequent poster on Hill’s social media pages. In one Facebook post she said that even though she wanted to win the primary election, it was more important that Bydlak lose.

“Even though I’m running against Mike Hill, I do know he is a good man!! I hope 2 win but if I don’t I sure hope Mike Hill does!! As a candidate myself I have done a lot of research on my opponents & the bunch funding Rebekah Bydlak I found out the same information on,” she wrote, referencing Hill’s Soros claims.

And when Doss’ birthday rolled around, Hill made sure to wish her the best.

doss birthday

In the end, the Republican primary came down to 542 votes out of the nearly 19,000 cast, and Hill’s victory virtually assures he’ll cruise back into the state House after drubbing Democratic nominee Vikki Garrett in November.

Bydlak, meanwhile, steps back into private life.

“If you want to know why principled conservatives don’t get involved in politics, you need only look at this race. If you want to know why conservative women run for office less frequently then men, take a look at how Mike Hill shamelessly lied to voters that Rebekah was pro-choice and anti-gun. He’s disgraceful and frankly unfit for public office,” said her husband, Jonathan Bydlak.

Mailers sent out by Hill’s campaign and the Suncoast Better Government Committee are below.

Mike Hill direct mail ads by Andrew Wilson on Scribd

Andrew Gillum at Orlando rally: Cowardly Donald Trump ‘won’t @ me, y’all’; RNC responds

Andrew Gillum, Democratic candidate for governor, told an Orlando crowd Saturday that President Donald Trump fearfully avoids him on social media.

“The president is real savvy on his Twitter feed. He tends to talk about me in Montana and other places,” Gillum said. “But he’s unfortunately a little cowardly. He won’t @ me, y’all.”

Indeed, the only time Trump has mentioned Gillum via Twitter came when he congratulated Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis for winning Florida’s GOP primary. Then, Trump called Gillum a “Socialist Mayor” who let crime flourish in Tallahassee. But he failed to use Gillum’s Twitter handle, @AndrewGillum, which would have sent a notification to the Democratic candidate.

Regardless, Gillum did see the tweet, and he (or campaign team members managing his Twitter account) offered a response 13 minutes after Trump’s original post that did employ the president’s favored handle.

Republican National Committee officials, for their part, say Trump had Gillum pegged, and said an FBI investigation of the Tallahassee mayor would bear that out.

“President Trump was correct when he called Gillum a ‘failed socialist mayor,’” said Taryn Fenske, RNC spokesperson.

Fenske alleged the FBI investigation would determine Gillum used his office for personal gain in accepting gifts from undercover agents and awarding lucrative contracts to his campaign treasurer. The Gillum campaign maintains the candidate is not the subject of the investigation but his critics have hammered him on an incomplete release of receipts.

“Gilllum has no idea how to run the city of Tallahassee, let alone the entire state of Florida,” Fenske said.

Trump came up Saturday at a Gillum’s official campaign kickoff, which drew about 1,200 people the Orlando Downtown Recreation Center to hear he and running mate Chris King, as well as U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, rally supporters around the Democratic ticket’s message of restoring dignity to Florida’s working class.

In Gillum’s speech, he spoke more often about Trump and outgoing Gov. Rick Scott, now the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, than he did of DeSantis.

But he did mention his Republic opponent in an effort to tie him more directly to the president.

“Ron DeSantis wants to call names. He wants to divide,” Gillum said. “He wants to return to the politics of Donald Trump. But on Nov. 6, Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump, they have another thing coming.”

While Gillum won the nomination largely through winning strong Florida’s major cities, he told supporters in Orlando he planned to campaign everywhere in the state leading up to the general election.

He referenced a primary visit to The Villages, a Republican bastion, where he said around 500 people showed up. “Almost none of them with a face that looked like mine, but that’s okay,” said Gillum, the first black Democratic nominee for governor.

The event, he said, turned into a small-donation fundraiser and his campaign pulled in about $6,000.

In terms of succeeding Scott in the governor’s mansion, DeSantis said he would accept money to expand Medicaid and any federal grants for high-speed rail, money he said Florida turned down because of a dislike of ObamaCare and the Obama stimulus.

He also promised to trust scientists on climate change and global warming.

But in an apparent pushback on that ‘socialist’ label from Trump and others, he also stressed the importance of business owners getting access to capital and promised to make Florida a leader in innovation in the nation.

See Gillum’s full speech here:

‘Monkey this up’ flap a ‘nothingburger,’ says Ron DeSantis

Over a week after saying that electing Andrew Gillum governor would “monkey this up,” Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis is still defending his choice of words even on friendly media outlets.

Saturday saw the Congressman from Marineland on Fox News Channel with Neil Cavuto, when the longtime host asked DeSantis if he regretted using a turn of phrase characterized in many quarters as a racist “dogwhistle” comment.

“It’s a phony controversy,” DeSantis said, a distraction from Gillum’s proposal to raise corporate taxes from five to seven percent.

When asked if he would use the phrase again, DeSantis exclaimed “of course not! Of course not,” before lapsing back into a de facto defense of the phrasing.

“People are going to demagogue what you say,” DeSantis contended, adding that “the voters know this is a nothingburger … I’m not going to be derailed by these controversies.”

DeSantis appeared Saturday morning with his pick for Lt. Gov., Miami-Dade Rep. Jeannette Nunez.

Nunez has been compelled to walk back a tweet she put out ahead of the Florida primary that called President Donald Trump (DeSantis’ political patron) the “biggest con-man there is,” and though Cavuto didn’t post the tweet on screen, he did ask if Nunez was comfortable with Trump campaigning for the ticket.

“Absolutely,” Nunez said, citing the “continued progress” Trump has been able to bring to the United States.

“We’re going to do the same for Florida,” Nunez vowed.

The Republican ticket may need Trump both on the stump and on the fundraising circuit if the first week’s receipts are any indication.

In the week between the primary and Aug. 31, Gillum raised $4,027,927.15, compared to DeSantis’ $527,879.53.

Polls of the race thus far say it is too close to call.

‘Russian Ron’ DeSantis? Florida Dems question loyalties in new ad

The Florida Democratic Party has a message for general election voters: reject “Russian” Ron DeSantis in the Governor’s race.

The FDP’s rationale: what they call DeSantis’ “unhinged defense of Donald Trump, the most corrupt and ethically challenged President in American history.”

“Ron DeSantis is one of the chief defenders of the most corrupt President in American history. DeSantis has spent the past two years demonizing law enforcement and furiously defending the Trump campaign’s potentially criminal contacts with the Russian government,” asserted FDP spokesman Kevin Donohoe.

“Instead of serving his constituents, DeSantis has appeared nearly constantly on television to try and explain away the President’s latest legal challenges. DeSantis acts more like he wants to be Donald Trump’s lawyer than the next Governor of Florida,” Donohoe added.

The ad begins with DeSantis on television defending President Trump, offering the money quote “Collusion is not a crime.”

From there, a series of folder graphics, sporting the names of Trump inner circle members from the campaign, such as campaign manager Paul Manafort and surrogate Michael Flynn, followed by a series of names of Russian conspirators.

Stamped across the folders: the word “guilty.”

DeSantis, who branded his primary campaign around his endorsement from President Trump, has yoked himself to the White House since Trump’s inauguration.

His defenses of Trump raised the President’s interest in his political future, and Democrats certainly will continue to remind general election voters of DeSantis’ constant agitation against the Robert Mueller investigation.

Republicans: This election is stark choice of capitalism versus radicalism

Led by blistering attacks from Gov. Rick Scott, Republican candidates kicked off their unity rally in Orlando Thursday morning declaring that this year’s election offers stark choices that boil down to capitalism versus socialism.

Scott, the nominee for U.S. Senate; gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis; the rest of Florida’s cabinet; and the rest of the Republican Party’s nominees for the cabinet took turns Friday attacking Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum and other Democrats as radical, bent on destroying Florida’s economy and the state.

“When I was in the private sector I recalled many times that it seemed like the two political parties didn’t have very different choices. That’s not the case here in Florida today,” Scott said. “This election offers voters the starkest choice possible for the direction and the future of our state and the country. The Democratic ticket of Bill Nelson and Andrew Gillum offering a very clear, a very liberal, a very radical and a very risky direction.”

“I am the capitalist candidate for Governor for the state of Florida,” DeSantis later declared.

The event oozed unity after primary battles that left some Republicans broken and broken-hearted. On Thursday, Attorney General nominee Ashley Moody, Agriculture Commissioner nominee Matt Caldwell, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, and Attorney General Pam Bondi all called for Republican voters to support GOP candidates.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and DeSantis shared a warm handshake and a call to “rally behind our values as Republicans.”

There were, however, a couple of key Republican leaders conspicuous by their absences. The first was Republican Party of Florida Chair Blaise Ingoglia, who continued his refusal to share a dais with Scott.

The other was President Donald Trump, who, in an hour of speeches, was mentioned only once, only in passing, and not by DeSantis, his pick in Florida, nor by Scott, who seeks to join him in Washington and had previously boasted of having a close relationship with him.

Scott and others planned to join Vice President Mike Pence at private events later on Thursday, but Pence was not scheduled to join the Florida Republican unity rally.

The theme was to build on the records of Scott, Bondi, Putnam, and Caldwell, pushing for lower taxes, deregulation, and tougher law enforcement, which was largely defined as enforcement of immigration laws. Much was made of Florida’s economy, job growth, lower taxes, and lower unemployment. Scott also defended his records on education and the environment, which have been sharply targeted by Democrats.

“I think the appropriate course of action is to see what has worked here, build off of that, and enjoy even more success,” DeSantis said. “My opponent, Andrew Gillum, would really want to stop that and reverse all the progress we’ve made.

“If you want to bring more investment to Florida, you probably don’t want to campaign on the biggest tax increase in Florida’s history,” DeSantis said.

From there, DeSantis and Scott charged Gillum with socialist ideas, particularly involving health care, and warnings that would strip private health care plans away from Floridians, bankrupt the state, and send Florida tax money to states like California and New York.

DeSantis also accused Gillum of “radicalism” in calling for the abolishment and replacement of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and in his statements regarding Israel. DeSantis called him anti-Israel for opposing the move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, something DeSantis helped champion in Congress.

“I think he believes Jerusalem should be divided,” DeSantis charged. “He criticizes Israel, he said they were committing murder when they were defending themselves against Hamas terrorists who were overrunning the border on the Gaza Strip. That is not representative of Florida values. I’ve always stood by Israel. I will be the most pro-Israel governor in the country.”

Scott, too, attacked Gillum and explicitly charged him with preaching socialism. His attacks on his own opponent, Nelson, was more often by association with Gillum and the Democrats, though he did take a very personal shot at the incumbent U.S. Senator.

“If you grew up wealthy like Bill Nelson, it’s all theory, it’s just about numbers,” Scott said of people struggling to make ends meet. “I grew up poor.”

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