Trump to Republican voters: ‘I love Florida’ and endorse Ron DeSantis

Ron DeSantis and President Donald Trump at a Tampa rally on July 31. (Zac Anderson/The Sarasota Herald-Tribune)

After giving Ron DeSantis his “full endorsement’ in June and appearing with him at a Tampa rally in July, President Donald Trump is seeking to close the deal with voters in Tuesday’s Florida Republican primary for governor.

Trump recorded a 54-second phone message that the DeSantis campaign is sending to GOP voters across the state.

“My friend Ron DeSantis is running for governor of the great state of Florida. I love Florida. I fully endorsed Ron in tomorrow’s election,” says Trump, who goes on to call DeSantis a “solid conservative” who has supported him on a border wall with Mexico, tax cuts, military spending and veterans issues.

“He will be absolutely outstanding,” Trump concludes.

U.S. Rep. DeSantis faces Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the GOP primary. The winner takes on the winner of a five-candidate Democratic primary.

Big Tuesday suspense: Who will win Florida’s pollster primary?

With Florida’s Tuesday primaries approaching and more than 1.5 million votes already cast, four Democrats and two Republicans can point to polls released in the last two weeks that show them leading their primaries for governor or at least within striking distance.

The “pollster primary” is among the topics discussed in the latest edition of the new Inside Florida Politics podcast — click below to check it out.

In the race for the GOP nomination, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis surged to a lead over Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in some polls after President Donald Trump gave his “full endorsement” to DeSantis in June and appeared with DeSantis at a Tampa rally in July.

A Gravis Marketing poll released Friday shows DeSantis leading by 15 points. But recent polls by Florida Atlantic University and SurveyUSA say the race is too close to call. A Saint Leo University poll with a sample of only 172 Republicans actually gives Putnam a lead.

In the five-candidate Democratic race, polls by Florida Atlantic University , Saint Leo  and Gravis Marketing give Gwen Graham the lead. SEA Polling gives former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine a within-the-margin-of-error edge, St. Pete Polls shows a within-the-margin-of-error lead for Graham and SurveyUSA has the race tied.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum‘s campaign released an internal poll showing Gillum leading the Democratic field. Billionaire Palm Beach real estate investor Jeff Greene isn’t leading any polls, but his campaign is arguing he’s a contender by pointing to the Gravis Marketing poll that shows him in second place to Graham, 7 points back. That was close enough for Greene to resume his TV advertising campaign.

Putnam comes to Palm Beach County amid signs of tightening GOP primary race with DeSantis

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam campaigning for governor in Riviera Beach last year. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — given up for dead by some Republicans after primary foe Ron DeSantis snagged the endorsement of President Donald Trump — will make a Palm Beach County appearance this evening amid some recent polling numbers that suggest the race for the GOP gubernatorial nomination is tightening.

Putnam and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera are scheduled to appear at a 6 p.m. rally at Yesteryear Village at the South Florida Fairgrounds.

Check out the new Inside Florida Politics podcast by clicking here.

A Florida Atlantic University poll released Tuesday shows Putnam and DeSantis in a virtual tie among Republican primary voters — 32 percent for DeSantis and 31 percent for Putnam in a survey with a 6.5 percent margin of error.

A SurveyUSA poll last week found similar results, with DeSantis holding a 40-to-38 percent lead in a sampling that had a 5.2 percent margin of error.

When Putnam campaigned in Bradenton on Tuesday, Sarasota Herald-Tribune Politics Editor Zac Anderson reports he blasted DeSantis for his ties to the president.

“You can’t afford to have a governor who calls the White House every morning and says ‘What are we going to do today boss?’” Putnam said during a breakfast event at Theresa’s Restaurant. “No, if you want to help our president make America great the third-largest state has to be hitting on all cylinders.”

Ron DeSantis, Ben Carson and a Roger Stone sighting at Palm Beach County GOP Lobsterfest

U.S. Reps. Ron DeSantis and Brian mast and HUD Secretary Ben Carson pose for photos with attendees at the Palm Beach County GOP’s Lobsterfest dinner in Boca Raton. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

BOCA RATON — Housing and Urban Development Secretary and Palm Beach Gardens resident Ben Carson got the top billing at the Palm Beach County GOP’s annual Lobsterfest on Thursday night, but there was also plenty of buzz for Ron DeSantisthe gubernatorial candidate backed by President Donald Trump — and for longtime Trump friend Roger Stone.

Roger Stone arrives at the Palm Beach County GOP Lobsterfest on Thursday. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Both DeSantis and his rival in the Aug. 28 Republican primary, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, were scheduled to attend the 450-attendee dinner at the Polo Club. But Putnam got tied up at a previously scheduled meeting in Miami and couldn’t get to the Palm Beach County event on time, Putnam spokeswoman Meredith Beatrice said.

So DeSantis, accompanied by wife Casey and 4-month-old son Mason, had the crowd of party activists and donors to himself.

While a line formed to get pictures with DeSantis, Carson and U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, in a VIP reception area, Stone arrived in a seersucker suit and generated his own crowd in the lobby.

Longtime Trump friend Stone’s name has frequently been mentioned in special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation of potential collusion between Russia and Trump’s 2016 campaign.

“I know that there is no evidence of Russian collusion, Wikileaks collaboration or anything pertaining to John Podesta’s devastatingly incriminating emails and me,” Stone said. “It’s not inconceivable that the special counsel could conjure up some other bogus offense in an attempt to get me to testify against the president, who I’ve known for 40 years. I’m not going to do that.”

After being interrupted by several people asking to get pictures with him, Stone added: “I wouldn’t rule out cooperating with him on some other basis if I can be helpful, but I will never testify against the president.”

Stone said there’s nothing for him to testify against Trump about “that I know of, but they may think otherwise.”

Ron DeSantis talks to reporters while holding son Mason. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

DeSantis has rocketed to the top of GOP polls since Trump tweeted his “full endorsement” in late June. The president also flew to Tampa last week to appear with DeSantis at a rally.

Palm Beach County Republican Executive Committee member Steven Ledewitz of Boynton Beach, a Putnam supporter, said he’s seen a decided swing among local Republicans to DeSantis since Trump’s endorsement.

“It’s certainly helped Congressman DeSantis quite a bit,” said Ledewitz. “And he (Trump) is technically the leader of the party, so he’s got a right to do that. I wish he hadn’t, but he did.”

DeSantis said Trump’s June 22 endorsement helped his campaign, but he also pointed to a Fox News debate a week later and other factors.

“It’s a positive impact, but he had tweeted for me in December and then did another tweet, but ultimately you’ve got to bring it home,” DeSantis said. “We had a debate in late June, I finally started spending money after getting $12 million dumped on me. I think it was a combination of the tweet, the debate and then the fact that we started being on TV.”

DeSantis crowed about his polling numbers in the race for the Republican nomination.

“I am kicking his keister in South Florida…I will win Palm Beach, Broward and Dade with significant margins” in the GOP primary, DeSantis said.

Carson, who told the partisan crowd he was appearing “as a private citizen with concerns about what’s going on in our country,” discussed the vehement opposition to Trump on the left.

“I don’t think it’s President Trump himself that the left is concerned about, it’s what he represents that they’re concerned about. He represents America. He represents the true values of the things that made us into a great nation and that’s what they don’t like,” Carson said.

“Why is there a Trump derangement syndrome going on? Why are there so many people that are just mad, irrationally mad?” Carson said. “Actually, it’s kind of logical if you stop and think about it. They have been attempting to fundamentally change America for decades. Now when I say ‘they,’ I’m talking about the Fabians, the socialists, the communists, the liberals – now they call themselves progressives. As soon as you figure out who they are they change their name, but they’re the same people. And they don’t like what this country represents. And they want to change it to their ideal, which is a government that takes care of you from cradle to grave, takes care of all your problems, but you give them all the power and they are the all-knowing. The problem is that system, wherever it has been tried, has failed.”




Trump to visit Tampa for Ron DeSantis, Rick Scott next week

President Donald Trump as a 2016 candidate at the South Florida Fairgrounds. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

President Donald Trump has scheduled a July 31 rally in Tampa.

He’ll promote U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis in the Aug. 28 Republican primary for governor against Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — following up on a December tweet praising DeSantis and a “full endorsement” of DeSantis in June.

Donald Trump Jr. campaigned for DeSantis in Orlando last week.

Trump, who’ll be appearing at the Expo Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds, will also make a pitch for Gov. Rick Scott‘s bid for U.S. Senate against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson — identified in a Trump campaign announcement as “Ben Nelson.” Former Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Florida’s Sen. Bill Nelson were often mistaken for each other when their Senate careers overlapped from 2001 to 2013.

Scott’s campaign didn’t immediately say whether the governor will attend.

The Trump campaign says the Tampa event will be Trump’s 36th rally in Florida since he launched his presidential campaign in 2015.

In May, Trump phoned in to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi at the Hillsborough County GOP’s Lincoln Day dinner and said he’d be “in Tampa very soon.”

Trump’s last Florida visit was in April, when he wrapped up a Mar-a-Lago stay that included a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

DeSantis turns to Fox News, Trump world for campaign events

Fox News host Sean Hannity campaigned with Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis this month; Fox personalities Michael Levin and Jeanine Pirro have upcoming events with DeSantis.

President Donald Trump and Fox News continue to be big factors in U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis‘s Republican campaign for Florida governor as his Aug. 28 primary against Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam approaches.

DeSantis, who has been endorsed by Trump, is a frequent guest on Fox News shows and announced his candidacy on the network in January.

DeSantis recently campaigned with Fox superstar Sean Hannity and will appear Saturday in Jupiter with conservative radio host Mark Levin, who also has a Fox show. The DeSantis-Levin event is at Trump National Golf Club — the first DeSantis campaign event at a Trump property.

President Donald Trump retweeted an announcement of this Ron DeSantis campaign event today from the United Kingdom.

The Fox-Trump worlds will line up for DeSantis again next week when he holds a campaign event in Orlando with Donald Trump Jr. and Fox personality Jeanine Pirro.

The president, who is in the United Kingdom today for meetings with Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth II, took time to retweet an announcement of the Orlando event.

Ron DeSantis to campaign with Mark Levin in Jupiter at Trump National Golf Club

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Palm Coast, at the kickoff of his campaign for governor in Boca Raton in January. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Republican Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis will appear with conservative radio host and Fox News personality Mark Levin at one of President Donald Trump‘s Palm Beach County properties on Saturday.

DeSantis — who got the president’s “full endorsement” last month in his GOP primary against Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — will appear at an “Afternoon with Levin” at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter. The event is free, but requires advance online registration.

Donald Trump Jr. is expected to campaign with DeSantis next week, with final details still being worked out.

There has also been much speculation about an appearance by the president himself for DeSantis sometime before the Aug. 28 primary, but nothing has been announced.


NBC, CBS polls differ on Scott-Nelson Senate race; Putnam tops DeSantis in GOP governor primary

Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. (Photos by George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

An NBC News/Marist poll released late Tuesday shows Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson edging Republican Gov. Rick Scott in their U.S. Senate race a day after a CBS/YouGov poll gave Scott a slight edge.

The NBC poll gives Nelson a 49-to-45 percent lead over Scott among registered –not likely — voters in a survey with a 3.9 percent margin of error. CBS had Scott leading by a 46-to-41 percent margin among likely voters, but by only 2 points among registered voters. The CBS poll had a 3.5 percent margin of error.

In other words, considering the margins of error and the more than four months until election day, the Nelson-Scott contest looks close — like Florida’s 2012 and 2016 presidential races and 2010 and 2014 governor’s races, all of which were decided by between 0.9 and 1.2 percentage points.

Not as close, according to NBC, is the Republican primary for governor. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam holds a 38-to-21 percent lead over U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

NBC’s take on the Putnam-DeSantis is similar to the results of a Fox News poll last week that showed Putnam holding a 32-to-17 percent lead.

Both polls offer some hope for DeSantis, who was praised by President Donald Trump on Twitter in December and got the president’s “full endorsement” on Friday. NBC and Fox both found 39 percent of Republican primary voters are undecided ahead of the Aug. 28 primary.

In the five-candidate Democratic primary for governor, NBC finds the race up for grabs. Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine tops the field at 19 percent and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham gets 17 percent in a sample that has a 6.5 percent margin of error. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (8 percent), billionaire Palm Beach real estate investor Jeff Greene (4 percent) and Winter Park businessman Chris King (3 percent) round out the Democratic field with 47 percent of voters undecided.

Ron DeSantis opens $12 million TV ad campaign, highlights Trump support

New TV ad for Republican Ron DeSantis’ gubernatorial campaign highlights his support from President Donald Trump.

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis has launched the TV phase of his Republican campaign for Florida governor with a 30-second spot that touts his biography and conservative credentials and, in a mild surprise, waits a full 20 seconds before mentioning his endorsement by “the big man himself” — President Donald Trump.

The DeSantis camp will be airing the spot statewide as part of a $12 million buy over the next nine weeks before the Aug. 28 primary.

The ad notes DeSantis served as a U.S. Navy JAG officer in Iraq and “dealt with terrorists” at Guantanamo Bay.



GOP primary rival Adam Putnam isn’t mentioned, but the narrator says DeSantis has “the guts to fight establishment politicians in both parties, to drain the swamp.” The DeSantis camp has made much of the fact that Putnam, 43, has held elected office since he was 22 years old (Florida state House, U.S. House, Agriculture commissioner).

Trump tweeted his praise for DeSantis in December, before DeSantis formally entered the race for governor.

Last week, the president followed up with another tweet lauding DeSantis and saying the congressman “has my full Endorsement!”

DeSantis trails Putnam in Fox News poll but gets full Trump endorsement this morning

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Palm Coast, at the kickoff of his campaign for governor in Boca Raton in January. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

President Donald Trump this morning gave his “full endorsement” to U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis in Florida’s Republican primary for governor after a Fox News poll showed DeSantis trailing Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam by a 32-to-17 percent margin among GOP voters.

“Congressman Ron DeSantis, a top student at Yale and Harvard Law School, is running for Governor of the Great State of Florida. Ron is strong on Borders, tough on Crime & big on Cutting Taxes – Loves our Military & our Vets. He will be a Great Governor & has my full Endorsement!” Trump tweeted at 7:58 a.m.

Trump praised DeSantis on Twitter in December, but stopped short of formally endorsing him and hasn’t committed to appear with him on the campaign trail.

With Fox News televising a Putnam-DeSantis debate at next week’s Republican Party of Florida Sunshine Summit, the president’s favorite network released a poll Thursday showing Putnam with a big lead over DeSantis, but 39 percent of Republican voters undecided.

The poll found 86 percent approval for Trump’s job performance among Florida Republicans, including 88 percent among Republican men and 84 percent among Republican women, 97 percent among “very conservative” Republicans and 96 percent among white evangelicals. Sixty-two percent “strongly” approve of the job Trump is doing and another 24 percent are “somewhat” supportive. Florid

Gov. Rick Scott‘s approval rating is 80 percent among Florida Republican voters in the poll.

The Fox poll of 901 likely Republican voters, conducted June 15-19, has a 3 percent margin of error.

Trump has only waded into a dozen or fewer Republican primary battles. He famously backed Luther Strange over Roy Moore in a special Alabama U.S. Senate primary last year; Moore won the GOP primary but lost the general election after being accused of child molestation and pursuing relationships with teenage girls. Trump endorsed Katie Arrington on the afternoon of South Carolina’s June 12 GOP primary; she defeated U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford.

Trump also endorsed South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster in that primary; he won a plurality but faces John Warren in a runoff next week.

Trump endorsed Mitt Romney‘s Utah Senate bid if February. Romney didn’t win the GOP nomination outright at an April convention of delegates but is favored in a primary election next week.