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Telemundo poll: Hispanics favoring Andrew Gillum, Bill Nelson

Republicans still have a solid block of support from Florida’s Cuban-American community but Puerto Ricans and other Hispanic voters are breaking strongly toward Democrats Andrew Gillum and Bill Nelson, giving the Democrats sizable leads overall among Hispanic voters, according to a new poll commissioned by Telemundo.

Overall, Gillum has a 51 percent to 40 percent advantage versus Republican Ron DeSantis among Hispanic voters in Florida’s governor’s race; and Nelson has a 54 to 39 advantage among Hispanic voters over Republican Rick Scott in Florida’s U.S. Senate race, according to a poll by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy for the Spanish-language TV network of Telemundo’s Florida stations.

The poll found majorities — in some cases, huge majorities — of Hispanic voters favor a number of policy positions supported by many or all Democrats and generally opposed by Republicans, notably for national health care, various immigration reforms.

The poll also broke down results by Hispanic origin for voters, and found the traditional partisan biases are still holding solid.

Cuban Americans favor former U.S. Rep. DeSantis and Gov. Scott by more than 30 points over their Democratic opponents; while Puerto Ricans and other Hispanic voters are going with Mayor Gillum and Sen. Nelson by huge margins compared with the Republicans.

Those preferences appear to have influenced regional breakouts too, where DeSantis and Scott are doing best among Hispanics in South Florida where the Cuban-American contingent still dominates the Hispanic population. The races are close there: Gillum leads DeSantis by one point, while Scott leads Nelson by one point. The races are not close among Hispanic voters in Tampa Bay or Central Florida. Gillum and Nelson lead by more than 20 points among Hispanic voters in the Tampa Bay area, where the once Cuban-American dominance has receded; and by more than 40 points in Central Florida, where Puerto Ricans’ dominance is growing within the Hispanic population.

Other polls of Florida’s gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races have shown much tighter spreads among Hispanic voters in Florida. Some polls have even shown the Republicans leading among Hispanic voters. However, the other polls have been of general populations of Florida voters, and have not drawn large samples of Hispanic voters, only proportional subsets, so that the accuracy levels were not high for the Hispanic trends they found.

Mason-Dixon interviewed 625 Hispanic voters by both landline and cellphones between last Thursday and Tuesday. The pollsters say the results have a margin of error of 4 percent.

The Telemundo poll found many of the other sub-demographic trends reported in general polls: Hispanic women, like sets of all women voters, are breaking far more strongly toward Democrats than men. Likewise, younger voters are trending more toward the Democrats than the older voters.

Respondents also were asked to give favorable/unfavorable ratings for the four major statewide candidates, and all wound up with overall favorable ratings, though Scott’s was close, at 39 percen favorable and 37 percent unfavorable. Gillum had the most positive spread among Hispanic voters surveyed, at 45 percent favorable and 28 percent unfavorable.

The top issues for all Hispanics were health care, jobs and the economy, followed by immigration. Once again, there was a split between Cuban-Americans and other Hispanics. Cuban-American voters named jobs and the economy as their top issue; Puerto Ricans and all-other Hispanics named health care as the top concern.

Forty-six percent of respondents said the state was on the wrong track, and 44 percent on the right track. Once again, there was a big difference between Cuban-Americans, who overwhelmingly said the state was on the right track, and Puerto Ricans and others who strongly disagreed.

Thirty percent said they believe they have benefited from the tax cut bill approved by Republicans last year, while 53 percent said they have not. Again, this was a big point of disagreement between Cuban-Americans [53 percent said yes], Puerto Ricans [13 percent yes], and other Hispanics, [18 percent yes.]

A huge margin — 78 to 15 percent — said they would support a national health care plan such as “Medicare for all” assuring health care coverage for all. Even Cuban-Americans signed up for that idea, by a 70 to 22 percent spread.

Hispanics polled in the survey oppose the immigration policies of President Donald Trump, with 51 percent opposed and 38 percent supporting. A majority of Cuban-Americans support it, but a landslide of Puerto Ricans oppose it, as do 59 percent of other Hispanics.

Almost all Hispanic voters support DACA — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy that President Barack Obama initiated to allow children of undocumented immigrants to stay, and which Trump ended. There wasn’t much disagreement on this; Cuban-Americans offered the least support, but still support it by an 83 to 9 percent ratio.

Strong majorities of Puerto Ricans and others, and a plurality of Cuban-Americans, also support the restoration of the Temporary Protected Status programs that Trump is ending for refugee immigrants.

Solid majorities across the board — 78 percent overall — favor a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

And just about everybody supports an extension of federal assistance for Puerto Ricans who settled in Florida after Hurricane Maria hit the island.

Rick Scott is ‘just one more vote for Trump,’ group says

The Senate Majority PAC (SMP) is out with a new ad arguing Republican Rick Scott will be another Donald Trump “yes man” if he makes it to the U.S. Senate.

SMP aims to elect Democrats to the Senate and is supporting the re-election bid of incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

The group’s new spot, titled “Same,” tries to hit Scott and Trump over their similarities before asserting the Scott will do Trump’s bidding should he wrestle the seat from Nelson next week.

A request for comment on the ad to the Scott campaign is pending.

“They’re both ‘hat guys,’ ” the ad’s narrator says of Scott and Trump, referring to their ‘Navy’ and ‘Make America Great Again’ ball caps.

“Both have ethics problems. Both gave big tax cuts to rich people like themselves. Both want to defund Planned Parenthood.

“So if we send Rick Scott (to Washington), he will keep putting Trump and his party over you … cutting health care, threatening Social Security and Medicare, and yes, more tax breaks to people who don’t need them.

“At a time when we need a check on Trump, Rick Scott is just one more vote for Trump.”

Hannah Hurley, a spokesperson for SMP, elaborated on the group’s concerns in a statement released along with the ad.

“Rick Scott and Donald Trump are a dangerous, ethically-challenged pair that together will give tax breaks to the rich while threatening Floridians’ Social Security, Medicare and health care,” Hurley said.

“Floridians need a leader that will always fight for them, putting their needs before the desires of a political party or party bosses. Rick Scott will never be that leader. With Rick Scott in Washington he would be another vote for Trump 100 percent of the time and Floridians deserve better than that.”

Scott has appeared to distance himself from Trump during his run for Senate.

That’s after Scott backed Trumpbigly” in the 2016 presidential election.

However, Trump is campaigning for Scott and GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis at a Halloween night rally in southwest Florida.

St. Pete Buddhist rallies the faithful to go to the polls

A St. Petersburg Buddhism-based spiritual center is asking members to vote this year because “our country is in crisis.”

President Donald Trump “not only encouraged these violent acts, his response has been to blame the victims,” wrote Tami Wheelock-Long, who works for Shambhala St. Petersburg, a world-wide organization of meditation and cultural centers centered on Buddhism philosophy.

“… Recently, the President announced that he is a ‘Nationalist.’ We know this means a White Nationalist.”

Wheelock-Long referred to the pipe bombs mailed to high-ranking former and current elected officials and prominent Democratic supporters.

What did all these people have in common? They were all critics of the Trump agenda,” she wrote. The email also mentioned the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh that claimed the lives of 11 congregants.

Wheelock-Long is calling on leaders of every Buddhist tradition across the U.S. to ask their ‘Sangha‘ to vote. Sangha are members of the Buddhist monastic community who often shy away from public life and rarely engage in politics.

“These are not normal times. I believe we as bodhisattvas should vote to help end this violence. The pain and suffering of so many Americans could be eased simply by shifting the power in the United States,” Wheelock-Long wrote.

She also called on members of the Buddhist faith ‘in retreat’ to hit the pause button long enough to vote. Buddhist retreats are typically periods of time during which followers stay in isolation and, in some cases, remain silent for various periods of time.

“So many lives are depending on this election. We need to stand up to this hate filled, racist, anti-Semitic president. Our fellow human beings need us more than ever right now,” Wheelock-Long wrote. “If the Buddha could have stopped Hitler by voting, would he have?”

The letter is indicative of the larger, nationwide vitriol surrounding this year’s midterm election. Many races, including Florida’s Governor’s race, have centered on or included references to candidates’ support for, or opposition to, Trump.

Democrats hope the contentious presidency and events that have unfolded since Trump’s election will push more voters to the polls in what they have described as a “blue wave.”

It’s not clear whether Wheelock-Long’s plea will drive any Buddhist followers to the polls this election, but it’s telling that a religious leader would call on a pause in ritual to vote.

Sean Shaw calls on Ashley Moody to answer for Donald Trump

Democratic state Rep. Sean Shaw, according to polling, is down in the Attorney General race to Republican Ashley Moody.

But Shaw’s campaign seems to be betting that digital spots can turn the tide; it dropped two on Wednesday.

As President Donald Trump makes his way to Florida for a political rally, Shaw is reminding voters that Moody stands with Trump in a new digital spot entitled “Role Model.”

The minute-long ad shows Moody, a former judge from Hillsborough County, extolling President Trump at a “Trump Club” meeting for standing up against the “fake news attacks … brilliantly and without distraction.”

Following that, a series of Trump’s greatest hits in mega-mix form, including the crowd-pleasing tribute to John McCain (“I like war heroes who weren’t captured”), the club banger “President Obama … is the founder of ISIS,” and the ol’ chestnut “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and not lose any voters.”

The scene changes to Moody being asked if Trump was a role model in a debate, with Moody lauding Trump as a role model for “getting things done.”

A second spot (“Change is on the ballot”) is a positive ad, messaging as the title suggests.

“Change is on the ballot,” Shaw says, “from the bottom to the top. And if you want change, you’re going to have to help us get there.”

Water woes become a political wildcard

Throughout the summer, politicians heard from Floridians angered by the latest bouts of toxic blue-green algae in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers, along with a festering red-tide outbreak on the Gulf Coast.

Protesters focused on the state’s handling of rising sea levels, a limited acknowledgment of climate change and past actions by Gov. Rick Scott such as reducing funding for water-management districts and easing regulations about water-quality testing.

But while Democrats continue to point to water quality and the environment as a driving force in Tuesday’s elections, other issues, including Hurricane Michael, claims of racist dog whistles, a ticket to the Broadway show “Hamilton” and, above all else, President Donald Trump, have been drawing away attention.

And when policy issues of importance to Floridians come up, the environment has to make space for health care, immigration, gun control and the economy.

That could help Republicans such as Scott, who is running for U.S. Senate, and gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis, a former congressman.

“Before Hurricane Michael, I think the ‘Red Tide Rick’ moniker had some legs,” said Kathryn DePalo, who teaches in Florida International University’s Department of Politics and International Relations. “But that seems to have dissipated with Gov. Scott off the campaign trail and focusing on the (hurricane) clean-up. I think it remains a big issue among voters, but Republican candidates, both Scott and DeSantis, have made it part of their platforms (along with the Democrats) and lessened some truly negative impacts against their party.”

Still, Democrats don’t see the Oct. 10 hurricane having much impact outside the Republican-dominated Panhandle and say the summer rage about toxic water is producing results. Some of the areas hit hard by water problems, such as Martin County and Lee County, are usually Republican strongholds.

“I think you’re seeing bad news for Scott in these affected counties, which have a ton of votes that the Republicans depend upon to run up the tables in order to win,” said Juan Penalosa, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party.

Aliki Moncrief, executive director of the Florida Conservation Voters, said “voters are realizing how important their own role is in choosing candidates who will protect our water and conservation lands and promote affordable clean energy.”

Scott’s environmental critics decry as “whitewashing” events such as the Governor’s announcement Tuesday of the completion of the second phase of a project that is raising Tamiami Trail to ease the southern flow of water from the Everglades.

“Instead of using the media event to celebrate a shared federal-state success on the Tamiami Trail bridging, Scott used it to attack Congress for not spending more money on Everglades projects. Could he get more political?” Sierra Club Florida Chapter Director Frank Jackalone said in a statement.

But Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg issued a statement thanking Scott and other state and federal officials for the road project, which is part of broader Everglades restoration efforts.

“The sense of urgency FDOT (the Florida Department of Transportation), the contractor and the National Park Service have brought to this and the next phase of the Tamiami Trail project is a model for Everglades restoration,” Eikenberg said. “By following this model of partnership and persistence, this generation will see Everglades restoration completed.”

The Aug. 28 primary election appeared to offer a sign that the water issues could affect the political ambitions of Scott, who is trying to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in Tuesday’s general election. RoqueRockyDe La Fuente drew 11.4 percent of the vote against Scott in the GOP Senate primary and 25 percent in Martin County, where the water issues have long been a major topic.

Water conditions have drawn attention in other statewide contests this year. But even in the race for agriculture commissioner between Democrat Nikki Fried and Republican Matt Caldwell, more attention has gone to issues such as guns.

And with Scott spending much of October in the Panhandle after Hurricane Michael, a focal point for water-related protests was removed.

Voters along the Caloosahatchee, however, remain concerned about the river.

Sam Bell, who moved from Maryland to Cape Coral three years ago, said after voting Saturday at a Lee County library that politicians’ handling of the environment was a major factor in how he cast his ballot.

“Three years ago, you could see the bottom of the river by our home,” Bell said. Now the water is murky top to bottom, he said.

But not every Lee County resident, where the river runs between Fort Myers and Cape Coral, puts water quality and the environment atop their reasons to vote.

Campaign signs in public rights-of-way affirm the region’s Republican dominance. Of the few signs put up in yards, most are focused on a half-cent sales tax referendum for the school district.

Cape Coral resident Tom Schilling reflected the views of a number of his neighbors in saying he’s more concerned about actions Democrats may take against Trump and recently confirmed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“I think if they get the House and Senate they’re going to try ruin (Kavanaugh’s) life again and probably going to take a lot of things Trump has done away from him,” Schilling said after voting Saturday. “I think the borders are an issue. I don’t believe in an open border policy. What’s (U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy) Pelosi going to do if she gets the chair again? I think they’ll try to impeach Trump. It’s just going to be a disaster.”

Cape Coral resident Jeanne Richards said her motivating factor in voting early Saturday was some of the proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot. The river’s condition wasn’t high on her list.

“Personally, not for me, this sounds horrible, but I don’t live on the water, I know it affects everybody, but I don’t see it every day, so I don’t think about it every day,” Richards said. “I know that sounds callus.”

Penalosa contends environmental issues are making three state Senate contests in Republican areas — District 14 in northern Brevard and southern Volusia counties, District 23 covering Sarasota County and part of Charlotte County, and District 25 covering Martin and St. Lucie counties and part of Palm Beach County — more competitive than initially expected.

Part of Penalosa’s calculation figures independents casting ballots for Democrats.

“Those are all areas or regions affected by red tide or toxic algae, all counties that went double digit to Trump,” Penalosa said.

DePalo said the water conditions should have a bigger impact on the U.S. Senate contest, particularly for Scott who for eight years has set the agenda for water quality.

She also expects state legislative contests in areas most affected by red tide and algae to be impacted “if voters feel the incumbent has not done enough or pledged to do enough to fix the problem.”

University of Central Florida political-science professor Aubrey Jewett said people who put water quality and the environment as the top issues likely will vote for Nelson and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum. But the numbers may not be enough for any true wave.

“Many who feel strongly are probably more likely to be progressive anyway,” Jewett said.

Also, Jewett said that while DeSantis doesn’t carry a strong environmental record from his days in Congress, he has scored points for rejecting direct financial contributions from sugar companies that operate in the Everglades Agricultural Area.

Jewett, however, expects water quality to be a little more important in the U.S. Senate contest.

“Gov. Scott objectively does not have a very good record on this issue from his time as governor in terms of funding, priorities, water-management district board appointments and enforcement action,” Jewett said. “Still he has tried and succeeded somewhat on insulating himself on this issue with his actions more recently and with his ads shifting blame to the federal government and Bill Nelson.”

Jewett said Nelson isn’t blameless, but he is just one of 100 U.S. senators, which makes him less of a direct target for criticism.

Florida Democrats on GOP: Voters shouldn’t be ‘tricked’

Ahead of President Donald Trump‘s Halloween visit to Florida later in the day, Florida Democrats warned voters not to get “tricked” regarding the GOP’s record before next week’s midterm election.

Democratic U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Ted Deutch and Val Demings spoke to reporters Wednesday, highlighting what they see as flaws in Republicans’ agenda during the 115th Congress.

“President Trump and Republicans are selling out the American people at every turn,” Castor said.

“Their actions affect all of us, but especially here in Florida. And there are significant differences between Democrats and Republicans on the ballot this year on the issues most important to them.”

One area Castor hit was the issue of health care. It’s been a focus of Democrats running for Congress through this cycle, after Republicans attempted to repeal the Affordable Care Act last year.

While those efforts failed, the GOP did manage to get rid of the individual mandate in their 2017 tax bill. Republican attorneys general from several states are also suing to remove protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

“Florida is part of that lawsuit, unfortunately,” Castor noted.

She also called out Trump for attempting to argue Republicans would do more to protect those with pre-existing conditions than would Democrats.

“He had the audacity to tweet out that ‘Republicans will totally protect people with pre-existing conditions. Democrats will not.'”

Coincidentally, during Wednesday morning’s call, Trump reiterated that message in another tweet.

“Republicans will protect people with pre-existing conditions far better than the Dems!” the tweet said.

Given the ongoing lawsuit and the GOP’s efforts to repeal the ACA, which established those protections, Trump’s claims have come under fire from numerous fact-checkers.

Deutch picked up on those health care criticisms while also hammering Republicans on the tax cuts bill passed late last year.

“Florida won’t soon forget the sight of House Republicans flocking to the White House to celebrate the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and taking away health care from people with pre-existing conditions,” Deutch said.

“They won’t forget the sight of House Republicans celebrating the passage of their massive tax scam. And, frankly, that tax bill was an embarrassment.”

Deutch pointed to analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office showing the law would increase the national debt by nearly $2 trillion in the next 10 years.

Deutch and Demings also noted criticism of the bill from U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. Back in May, after the law went into effect, Rubio argued companies that benefited from the cuts were not passing down those benefits to employees.

“There’s no evidence whatsoever that the money’s been massively poured back into the American worker,” Rubio said.

Demings did concede that Florida “has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.” But she noted such a low rate should result in higher wages as companies compete with each other over a smaller pool of workers.

Instead, she pointed to a report by the U.S. Senate’s Joint Economic Committee, showing Florida’s average wage growth since January 2017 increased by just 0.3 percent, adjusted for inflation.

In all, the Democrats argued that the GOP is selling them false hope in efforts to get its members re-elected to the House.

“Donald Trump’s coming to Florida on Halloween,” Castor said. “And we want to make sure that Florida voters aren’t tricked.”

‘Diversity’: New Andrew Gillum spot brings home campaign’s unity message

The contrast between the gubernatorial campaigns of Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis is as stark as any statewide contest in recent memory.

With DeSantis bringing his political patron, President Donald Trump, into the state to stump for him at a Halloween rally, the Gillum campaign is countering with an appeal to the other side.

Gillum’s latest digital spot, “Diversity,” features the candidate speaking in his own words, appealing to voters to “stand together against politicians that use race to divide us … stand together against rhetoric that pits us versus them … bet on each other instead of against each other.”

“As governor I’ll ensure that the most diverse state in America also sets an example as the most united state in America. Because that is how we all win together.”

The :55 spot reminds voters of the candidate’s own humble background, a reminder interspersed with images of the “Gillum Surge” at rallies: a stark contrast, in tone and vibe, to the gatherings of largely elderly Caucasians at events for Republican candidate Ron DeSantis.

Recent polling shows Gillum slightly ahead during early voting, even as his advantage isn’t as much as it was in some outlier polls weeks back.

A survey from the University of North Florida pegs the race as a six point Gillum win (49-43).

A CBS News poll shows a one point lead for Gillum.

New York Times poll splits the difference, showing a 43-38 advantage for Gillum, with one potential path for a DeSantis victory in the modeling: an electorate that performs like the 2014 voters.

Bernie Sanders to rally votes for Andrew Gillum

Just hours before President Donald Trump rallies voters Wednesday for Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders will appear in Central Florida to back Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum.

Sanders, who drew heavy support from progressive voters as he ran in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries, is scheduled to appear at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the University of Central Florida’s CFE Arena in Orlando.

Then he heads to the University of South Florida East Gym in Tampa to rally alongside Democratic Lt. Gov. candidate Chris King and Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw. Doors open at 2 p.m.

Meanwhile, Trump will appear at 7 p.m. at Hertz Arena in Estero, with DeSantis on hand.

Ron DeSantis won’t call Andrew Gillum a ‘thief,’ punts when asked about Rick Scott finances

Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis called a press conference Tuesday in Jacksonville to promote his “Women4DeSantis” coalition.

However, the most quotable and newsworthy sections of the event happened after the 25-minute formal rollout, which happened in the backroom of the local Republican Party of Florida office with a few dozen supporters on hand.

Just hours after President Donald Trump called DeSantis’ opponent, Democrat Andrew Gillum, a “stone cold thief” on Fox News, we asked DeSantis if he agreed with the President.

We also asked whether Gov. Rick Scott, whose issues with his blind trust have been myriad, had been above board regarding separating financial interests from public policy.

Regarding Scott, DeSantis’ answer was simple, as the candidate clearly separated himself from the recurring Democratic talking point in the race.

“I’m just not that familiar with his financial arrangements. I can tell you, as (wife) Casey mentioned in my bio, I basically made decisions to serve in uniform, as a prosecutor, and in Congress to my financial detriment,” DeSantis said.

“I’m not complaining about that, but I’m not entering (office) with a big trust fund or anything like that, so I’m not going to be entering office with those issues,” DeSantis added.

Regarding Gillum, however, the answer was long and winding and avoided addressing the President’s pyrotechnic quote, despite repeated attempts to get specifics.

“In the case of Andrew, look, he has not been honest with the voters of Florida. I asked him in that debate, and the media should have been asking him these questions … he says he’s not under investigation. He’s been saying that. He’s the only one who says that,” DeSantis said.

“Let me ask you this: He had a thousand dollar ticket given to him to go to this play. It’s not like going to see The Avengers on a Saturday afternoon … maybe two thousand dollars at that time,” DeSantis added.

“He gets that from an agent. A guy posing as a contractor — really, he’s an FBI agent. And that same undercover FBI agent later underwrote a fundraising dinner for him. He never disclosed that. (That’s) $4,300 from an undercover agent for Andrew’s political endeavors,” DeSantis said.

Indeed, Gillum has struggled with answers to these questions.

This, from the Miami Herald: “Now folks are asking me to answer for which caterer does what? I’ve done more events than I could count. I couldn’t tell you anything about a food venue or, quite frankly, whether somebody cooked it or somebody catered it. But that apparently is the new expectation,” Gillum has lamented.

We attempted, again, to get DeSantis to answer the question directly as the crowd on hand got surly.

“What other reason would an undercover agent have for making those expenditures unless he was investigating Andrew?

“What Andrew has done,” DeSantis said, “is take illegal gifts. You cannot accept a thousand dollars worth of gifts from an FBI agent posing as a contractor. That violates Florida law.”

“You cannot accept a thousand dollar junket to Costa Rica, which he did not pay for, from a lobbyist doing business with the government,” DeSantis added. “That violates Florida law.

“What did he do after getting that? He turned around and gave the lobbyist exactly what that lobbyist wanted,” DeSantis said. “To me, those are ill-begotten gains that he should not have had. And what he did, doing the favor for the lobbyist, is exactly how we don’t want government to work.”

The crowd applauded; indeed, the loudest applause of the event. But the mood again soured when we asked DeSantis simply if Gillum was a thief or not.

The crowd jeered, with multiple people turning around and chiding that that question had been asked enough already. Almost as if there were an implicit arrangement to let Trump, DeSantis’ political patron who will rally with him Wednesday, throw bombs while the candidate himself can avoid giving a direct answer.

“Have some respect” and “you got your soundbite” were among the audible responses, as DeSantis moved on to take a question from an audience member.

Outside the event, Gillum surrogate Donna Deegan addressed DeSantis’ inability to address Gov. Rick Scott‘s blind trust while condemning Gillum’s alleged corruption.

We asked Deegan if there was a double standard.

“Doesn’t that question really answer itself? The whole strategy of the DeSantis campaign, the Trump campaign, the Scott campaign is to try to create as much chaos as possible. To try to throw as much as possible,” Deegan said.

“Truly, if Ron DeSantis cared about corruption, he wouldn’t be promoting a Governor who literally had the largest Medicare extortion in the history of the United States. He would not be backing a President (with) 17 indictments in his administration, one conviction. A person who’s ignored the fact we have an Emoluments Clause.”

“It’s laughable,” Deegan said. “He doesn’t care about corruption. He cares about creating as much chaos as he can to try to confuse people. And I find that personally very offensive.”

“We have to get beyond this whole post-truth world and start telling the truth to people,” said Deegan, a former reporter.

“That’s partly on you guys. Instead of just reporting every little crazy thing that’s been said, point out that’s not consistent with what the actions have been. That’s not consistent with the truth,” Deegan added.

Trump

Donald Trump escalates anti-media rhetoric after wave of violence

Grappling with a wave of election-season violence, President Donald Trump escalated his rhetoric against the news media on Monday even as he made plans for a somber visit to Pennsylvania to mourn a synagogue massacre that left 11 dead.

Days after the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue and a mail-bomb scare targeting prominent Democrats and CNN, Trump argued that “fraudulent” reporting was contributing to anger in the country and declared that the press was the “true Enemy of the People.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders continued in the same vein at a press briefing, saying: “The very first action that the president did was condemn these heinous acts. The very first thing that the media did was condemn the president, go after him, try to place blame.”

While Trump has condemned the Pennsylvania shootings as an anti-Semitic act and has decried political violence, he also has continued his political schedule over the past week and largely kept up his criticism against Democrats and the media. The White House has rejected any suggestion that the president’s harsh rhetoric contributed to the toxic moment.

And Sanders made clear Trump was unlikely to change course, saying the president will “continue to fight back” against critics.

Trump will travel to Pennsylvania on Tuesday with first lady Melania Trump. Sanders said Trump would go “to express the support of the American people and to grieve with the Pittsburgh community.”

The White House did not immediately provide further details on Trump’s trip, which drew mixed reactions in Pittsburgh.

Leaders of a liberal Jewish group in Pittsburgh penned an open letter to Trump before the White House announced the plans, saying he was not welcome in the city until he denounced white nationalism. But Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, of the Tree of Life synagogue, made clear he would be welcome, telling CNN: “The President of the United States is always welcome. I am a citizen. He is my president. He is certainly welcome.”

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, a Democrat, told reporters ahead of the announcement that the White House should consult with the families of the victims about their preferences and asked that the president not come during a funeral.

“If the President is looking to come to Pittsburgh, I would ask that he not do so while we are burying the dead. Our attention and our focus is going to be on them, and we don’t have public safety that we can take away from what is needed in order to do both,” Peduto said.

The White House did not immediately respond to the mayor’s request. Asked if Trump has done enough to condemn white nationalism, Sanders said he “has denounced racism, hatred and bigotry in all forms on a number of occasions.”

She added: “Some individuals — they’re grieving, they’re hurting. The president wants to be there to show the support of this administration for the Jewish community. The rabbi said that he is welcome as well.”

Throughout his Republican campaign and presidency, Trump has been an unrelenting critic of the media. Last week, the New York offices of CNN, the cable network frequently criticized by Trump and his supporters, was evacuated after receiving an explosive device and an envelope containing white powder.

CNN President Jeff Zucker said another suspicious package addressed to CNN was intercepted Monday at an Atlanta post office.

With eight days to go before the midterm elections, Trump has continued to hold his political rallies, complete with harsh criticism of Democrats and the media. He is planning an aggressive campaign schedule during the final days leading up to the Nov. 6 elections.

At a rally Saturday night, Trump was somewhat muted but still offered his standard campaign attack lines against critics including Democrat Hillary Clinton and Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, both of whom were targeted in the bomb plot. On Twitter on Sunday, he savaged billionaire businessman Tom Steyer, another target of the mail bombs, as a “crazed & stumbling lunatic.”

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