Democrat Andrew Gillum launched a new digital ad promoting diversity and unity, as President Donald Trump prepares to begin an 8 state, 6 day tour in Fort Myers later Wednesday in a sign of Florida’s significance in the 2018 midterm elections.
Trump’s visit is aimed at stirring up his base in the two top contests on the ticket. Gov. Rick Scott is trying to oust incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, and former GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis is trying to defeat Tallahassee Democratic Mayor Andrew Gillum in the gubernatorial fight.
Trump is set to return to Florida on Saturday for a rally in Pensacola.
The president’s comments Monday in an interview with Fox News in which he called Gillum a “stone cold thief,” for accepting tickets to the Broadway show, “Hamilton,” as part of an undercover FBI investigation into public corruption in Tallahassee city government, will likely set the tone for Wednesday evenings rally.
“Here’s a guy that, in my opinion, is a stone cold thief, and his city, Tallahassee, is known as the most corrupt in Florida, and one of the most corrupt in the nation,” Trump said in the Fox interview.
Gillum has insisted the FBI has told him he is not a target of the agency’s probe.
Some Republicans question whether Trump and his recent comments could hurt his party’s candidates.
“The more he inserts himself into that race the more he helps Andrew Gillum,” Ana Navarro, who is a Republican strategist from South Florida, said Tuesday on CNN.
The new Gillum ad (see below) appears to be targeted at at DeSantis and, again, raises the issue of race.
“So let’s stand together against politicians that use race to divide us,” Gillum says in the spot. “So let’s stand together against rhetoric that pits us versus them. So let’s bet on each other instead of against each other.”
And the ad concludes with Mayor Gillum saying, “As governor I’ll ensure that the most diverse state in America also sets an example as the most united state in America. Because that is how we all win together.”
All of this comes as Floridians continue to turn out in large numbers to cast early ballots. Numbers compiled through Wednesday morning shows more than 3.4 million ballots have already cast either by mail or at one of the early voting sites across the state. The GOP continues to lead Democratic early voters with more than 1.43 million ballots cast compared to nearly 1.37 million cast by Democrats.