If anyone knows how to stoke the flames of a political fire, no one does it better than President Donald Trump.
The day before he is set to attend a Make America Great Again rally in Fort Myers, Trump made headlines for comments he made during an interview on Fox News on Monday in which he called Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum a “stone cold thief.”
Trump was referring to the much publicized Broadway ticket to “Hamilton” that is believed to be given to Gillum by an FBI undercover agent involved in an investigation into possible public corruption within Tallahassee city government.
“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.
“The FBI offered him tickets at $1800 a piece and he took ’em,” Trump said.
Trump is scheduled to attend two rallies in Florida during his upcoming six-day tour in advance of the election — tomorrow’s rally in Fort Myers and a Saturday rally in Pensacola.
“He’s a disaster, and how he’s even close to being tied is hard to believe,” Trump said and claimed if he’s elected, Gillum would turn Florida into Venezuela.
Gillum fired back in a Twitter post with one of grandmother’s sayings that he has used throughout the campaign.
“I heard @realDonaldTrump ran home to @FoxNews to lie about me. But as my grandmother told me — never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but the pig likes it. So ignore him and vote, Florida!” Gillum tweeted.
I heard @realDonaldTrump ran home to @FoxNews to lie about me. But as my grandmother told me — never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but the pig likes it. So ignore him and vote, Florida!
— Andrew Gillum (@AndrewGillum) October 30, 2018
With a week remaining before the Nov. 6 election, Trump’s comments will help to fire up his political base here in Florida and help Gillum’s Republican opponent, Ron DeSantis. But could his words also work to fire up his political opponents?
Most polls have shown Gillum consistently in the lead, but the margins of those leads range from 1 percent to 12 percent.
The most recent polls released Tuesday morning come from the University of North Florida and USA Today. The UNF poll shows Gillum up 6 percent, 49 percent to 46 percent with 7 percent still undecided. While the USA survey has Gillum up by 1-point, 45 percent to 44 percent.
Real Clear Politics, which provides an average of the polls taken to date, shows Gillum holding a 3 percent advantage in the contest for governor.
Trump will spend the next week trying to fire up his base. He’s has stops planned in a number of states over the next six days campaigning on behalf of Republican candidates.