Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis (left) looks on during a CNN debate with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum in Tampa on Sunday night.
Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis was asked on Sunday night if he thought Donald Trump, who endorsed him, was a good role model for children.
DeSantis, who recorded a now famous campaign ad in which he taught his children the president’s slogans and policies, responded by saying he thought Trump did the right thing by moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Referring to his opponent, the Democrat Andrew Gillum, the Republican said: “I know Andrew didn’t support that and doesn’t think that’s right.”
Gillum looked at the host of the first debate of the race, Jake Tapper of CNN, and said: “I’m confused by the question.”
“The question,” Tapper said, “was whether or not he thinks President Trump is a good role model for the children of Florida.”
“That’s what I thought,” Gillum said, drawing laughter from the audience. “No, he’s not. Donald Trump is weak, and he performs as all weak people do. They become bullies, and Mr DeSantis is his acolyte. He’s trying out to be the Trump apprentice. At every turn he’s tweeting him.”
DeSantis claimed Gillum would not be able to work with Trump, saying: “You need to be able to work with the president. Andrew can’t do that. He wants to impeach Trump, he’s always saying bad things about him. I think I will be better positioned to advance Florida’s priorities because I have a productive relationship with the administration.”
Gillum said that despite his disgust for Trump’s behaviour, he wouldn’t turn down help from the president if it helped Florida.
Gillum is the mayor of Tallahassee.
DeSantis resigned his seat in the US House to focus on the governor’s race.
Gillum said doing what’s best for the state shouldn’t be about politics, noting that he had worked closely with the Republican governor, Rick Scott, in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, which left most of Tallahassee without power.
“This is not Russia,” Gillum said.
“You shouldn’t have to kiss the ring of the president of the United States for the president to see to the goodwill of the third largest state in all of America. “This is a democracy. We can dissent, we can disagree and where it comes to working together, we can do that too. If you want to look for an example, look at how Rick Scott and I worked with each other in the aftermath of this hurricane.”
Gillum and DeSantis also scuffled on the economy and race.
Throughout the debate, Gillum appeared calm while DeSantis looked agitated, often shifting his eyes and moving his head from side to side and interrupting his opponent.
DeSantis said Gillum would hurt the state’s economy by raising corporate income tax and raising the minimum wage.
And he repeatedly said that Tallahassee has the highest crime rate in the state, while Gillum repeatedly defended the city for being at a five-year low in crime.
Tapper brought up the fact that DeSantis said Florida voters shouldn’t “monkey this up” by electing Gillum as Florida’s first black governor and refused to return money from a donor who called Barack Obama the N-word on Twitter.
DeSantis brought up his experience as a navy officer and his time served in Iraq.
“When we’re down range in Iraq, it didn’t matter your race. We all wore the same uniform, we all had that American flag patch on our arm and that was end of story,” he said. “I’ll be a governor for all Floridians.”
Gillum implied that DeSantis had aligned himself with racists through social media and speeches he has made.
“The monkey up comment said it all, and he has only continued in the course of his campaign to draw all the attention he can to the colour of my skin,” Gillum said. “And the truth is, you know what? I’m black. I’ve been black I’ll my life and as far as I know, I’ll die black.”
Gillum leads in polls on the Florida race, which will be decided on 6 November.
This article provided by NewsEdge.