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.
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — given up for dead by some Republicans after primary foe Ron DeSantissnagged 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.
“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.”
Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Philip Levine stopped by an early voting site west of Delray Beach this morning and told supporters that Florida is “the last line of defense for Democrats against Donald Trump and against his little Mini-Me, Ron DeSantis.”
The former Miami Beach mayor visited the Hagen Ranch Road Library as part of a statewide swing that was to include stops at early voting sights in Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville.
With turnout usually low for the August primaries and five Democrats vying for the gubernatorial nomination, Levine played the Trump card to try to energize voters. His attack on DeSantis reflects the widespread expectation among Democrats that the Trump-endorsed Republican will win the GOP nomination over Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
“This is how we’re going to change the state. This is how we’re going to change the country,” Levine said to about 20 supporters. “And what you guys are doing here today, you’re at the front lines. Because this is the last line of defense for Democrats against Donald Trump and against his little Mini-Me, Ron DeSantis. So this is it. You being out here is so important for everything we need to get done – stop offshore oil drilling, make sure we have health care for everybody, raise the minimum living wage, pay our teachers a fair, nationally competitive salary…”
While Trump’s support of DeSantis has reshaped the GOP primary, Levine said Trump will also be a significant factor in the Democratic primary.
“It’s a huge issue because for people that want to fight climate change, for people that want health care for everybody, for people that want to pay their teachers more, for people that want safe gun laws in the state of Florida, they realize that Donald Trump and his little Mini-Me, Radical Ron, they are against all those things for the state of Florida,” Levine said in an interview.
“Which means that the Democratic nominee is going to be fighting against the white House. And the key is, who is best equipped, who has the most experience to fight back against Donald Trump. And I believe I am that person,” Levine said.
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 DeSantis — the gubernatorial candidate backed by President Donald Trump — and for longtime Trump friend Roger Stone.
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.”
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.”
Greene, who has made his pledge to “stand up to Trump” a centerpiece of his Democratic bid for governor, plans to hold a “Stand Up To Trump” event in a designated protest space at the Florida State Fairgrounds where Trump will appear.
Greene planned to arrive in Tampa Monday night as part of a statewide bus tour. Greene’s bus includes the slogan “Trump’s Worst Nightmare.”
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.
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.
DeSantis was asked about critics who said Trump missed an opportunity to criticize Putin for interfering in the 2016 election, as outlined in Friday’s indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officials by special counsel Robert Mueller.
DeSantis did, in fact, see a missed opportunity.
“In terms of the meddling, I think the point to make, that the president could make very easily, is this happened when Obama was president and one of the reasons it happened, I think, is because people in the Russian government didn’t think Obama would do anything. So Obama’s weakness over eight years, starting with the ‘Reset,’ I think that that did invite Russia to be more belligerent than they otherwise would have if they had someone pushing back,” DeSantis said.
“So I think the president had an opportunity to point that out and say, you know, there’s a new sheriff in town. Because his administration has been tougher on Russia than Obama. For example, we tried to get legal aid to Ukraine so it could defend itself against Russian oppression. Obama opposed that. President Trump supports that. So he’s got a story to tell and I think that he should try to do that.”
DeSantis said the Mueller indictment and a House Intelligence Committee report are “credible” in blaming Russia for interference.
“Putin, if you look at the operation that they did with the spearphishing and the hacking, that was really a third rate operation. It was not sophisticated and I think the House Intel report and the Mueller indictment kind of show that,” DeSantis said.
“But man, what mileage have they gotten out of that and a lot of that is being driven by the president’s political opponents, both in the Democratic Party and the press. And I think that’s what bugs him about the issue, is that it’s used to try to delegitimize his election victory. I personally think the Intel report and the indictment are credible in terms of assigning blame, culpability to Russia. But at the same time, I don’t think that had anything to do with the fact that he whupped Hillary Clinton. And I also don’t think there was any Trump-Russia collusion. And so there’s just all these issues that have kind of been intermingled by a lot of the people that want to damage him as president.”
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.
Jeff Greene, the billionaire Palm Beach real estate investor seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, took advantage of his status as a member of President Donald Trump‘s Mar-a-Lago Club to do a photo shoot for a campaign mailer pledging to make Trump pay personally for his frequent Florida visits.
“If Trump wants to vacation here at Mar-a-Lago, he can pay for that himself,” declares an 8-by-10 color mailer that shows Greene standing with hands on hips looking at the Palm Beach mansion from one of its swimming pools.
The photo appears to have been taken from the club’s oceanfront pool across A-1-A from the main mansion. Greene spokeswoman Claire VanSusteren said the candidate visited Mar-a-Lago for the photo shoot and no digital manipulation was involved in the image.
The mailer dovetails with a 30-second Greene TV ad that says he’ll end Florida taxpayer expenditures to help with security when Trump visits and “put that money where Florida needs it — to fully fund Planned Parenthood and help our struggling schools with more teachers and resources.”
Palm Beach County and other local governments spent $3.4 million to help protect Trump during his first seven visits to Mar-a-Lago between February and April 2017. The federal government reimbursed local taxpayers for the costs. Local governments are also in line to be reimbursed by the feds for the costs of Trump’s 2017-18 visits, which cost $3.3 million between November and early February.
Greene lives two properties south of Mar-a-Lago and has been a club member since before Trump got involved in politics.
“He intends to keep his membership as long as he’s allowed,” Van Susteren said. “There are many folks that wish they could walk right up to Donald trump and tell him exactly what they think. That’s why he intends to keep his membership.”
While all the Democratic candidates for governor have prided themselves on opposing the Republican president, Greene’s Mar-a-Lago membership allows him to make his case visually in a way his rivals can’t. And if Greene’s photo ops anger the president enough to get him kicked out of Mar-a-Lago, it probably would be seen as a badge of honor for the Democratic candidate.
VanSusteren said the Greene campaign has not heard any reaction from the president or Mar-a-Lago, but Greene “anticipates his membership being revoked.”