Two of Florida’s more articulate legislators jousted about the ongoing presidential race Friday, workshopping top of the ticket themes for a Sunshine State audience.
Rep. Anna Eskamani, representing the Democratic side of the equation, went up against Rep. Blaise Ingoglia in a forum hosted by the state’s Tiger Bay clubs.
The exchange, in stark contrast to the septuagenarian rancor in the exchanges between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, were respectful and non-polemical, a look at how lawmakers see the process of governing as much of the sales pitch for a given candidate.
Eskamani and Ingoglia disagreed about most everything, however cordially, not least of which was the coronavirus and the President’s handling of the pandemic.
“We already know just by the impact COVID has had on this country … President Trump has been making decisions throughout this pandemic based on politics, not science,” the Orlando Democrat intoned.
Ingoglia, a Republican from Spring Hill who once chaired the Republican Party of Florida, said that Democrats put impeachment over coronavirus, a proposition Eskamani didn’t agree with, saying Trump needed to “rise above and demonstrate leadership to everyone else around him.”
Climate change also offered contrast, with Eskamani saying Trump, like many Republicans, ignored science and was in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry.
Ingoglia noted that Trump was right to remove America from the Paris Climate Accord, saying Republicans “love Trump because he puts America first.”
The two also diverged on vote by mail, with Ingoglia citing “plenty of evidence of ballot fraud” and Eskamani claiming Republican caterwauling about potential fraud was fundamentally “undemocratic.”
“We know all too well that, yes, there are occasions of fraudulent voting,” Eskamani said, “but it’s not the norm.”
Larger economic issues came to the fore, with Ingoglia saying Trump “delivered real numbers, real money for people,” citing a Gallup poll saying 56% of people were economically “better off than they were four years ago.”
“This President knows that the way you boom an economy is to have more money in the hands of the people,” Ingoglia said.
That said, Ingoglia spotlighted the national debt as a serious danger, one that gives rival nations leverage to “manipulate our economy.”
Trump has increased deficit spending, especially in response to the pandemic, in a way unseen since the mobilization for World War II.
Eskamani noted that while “government debt isn’t new to the U.S.,” it’s a unique concern given the accelerated spending in recent years.
Law and order spiced up the forum also, with Ingoglia depicting the Biden ticket as catering to radicals.
Eskamani, when asked about violent protests, noted the ones she’s participated in in Orlando have been peaceful.
“Democrats have called out the violence and vandalism as well,” Eskamani said, before accusing the President of trying to fuel racial tensions with intemperate rhetoric.
Party line postulations continued on other issues, including the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett and the dreaded specter of “court packing,” with both stand-ins taking their party’s platform.