President Donald Trump is keeping up his election meddling ahead of the midterms next week. This Monday, he took to Twitter to slam Democratic Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum as a “thief” — without any immediately provided evidence at all. The Tallahassee mayor turned Democratic rising star dismissed the president’s jabs in a response (also posted to Twitter), asserting they simply indicate that Trump can’t get away from the fact that his party is coming up short.
‘On Twitter there is a choice between having the courage to @ the person you are trash talking, or not.
@realDonaldTrump is howling because he’s weak. Florida, go vote today.’
Trump, in his original post, didn’t even use Gillum’s name, let alone tag the mayor. He did name (and tag, for the record) Ron DeSantis, though, Gillum’s Republican opponent. As an important context — DeSantis remains behind Gillum in most polls, and there’s not really a chance for any sort of major shift ahead of the conclusion of the race. As Gillum himself indicated, early voting in Florida is already underway. At present, FiveThirtyEight gives Gillum a 7 in 9 chance of pulling off a victory.
Still, the president is sticking fast to his attack line.
In his original Saturday jab, he railed against Gillum, who he called “a Dem who is a thief and who is Mayor of poorly run Tallahassee, said to be one of the most corrupt cities in the Country!”
It’s not clear that there are any respectable sources calling Tallahassee one of the most corrupt cities in the country. The insult is reminiscent of a claim from DeSantis offered during one of his debates with Gillum that Tallahassee has the highest crime rate in the state of Florida. It doesn’t, though. Judging crimes per 100,000 residents, it’s not even in the top 25.
Trump could have had a public corruption probe of Tallahassee undertaken by the FBI in mind, but there’s little to no apparent evidence that Gillum himself should be considered a subject of that probe. He’s said that last summer, the FBI told him he wasn’t a “focus.” Ironically enough, the president has maintained in his own confrontation with the Russia scandal time and time again that he shouldn’t be held responsible for the actions of his aides and staffers. Now, the opposite seems to be just what he’s implying here.
That doesn’t even include the racist undertones to the president’s original Saturday statement. He sought to paint DeSantis — the white guy in the race — as smart and competent because he went to Harvard and Yale and Gillum, who attended Florida A & M University and is black, as a fool.
It mirrors some questionable comments DeSantis himself offered right as the general election race in Florida got underway, admonishing voters not to “monkey this up” by electing Gillum. If polls are any indication, though, the majority of Florida voters aren’t that keen on taking the messaging from DeSantis and the president to heart. The people of Florida will likely be among the estimated majority of Americans who will be led by Democratic governors come 2019.
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