President Trump praised Florida Gov. Rick Scott Tuesday as "a tremendous guy" and "a friend of mine for a long time" as he prepared to endorse U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis in next month's Republican primary to replace Scott.
Trump and Scott appeared on stage at a round-table event in Tampa before the president was to headline a rally for DeSantis at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Scott is challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in one of the most high-profile races of this midterm election and polls indicate a close contest.
"He works really hard, he's really smart and he gets it and he loves this state and he loves this country," said Trump, who touted Scott's record on the economy and education during the event at Tampa Technical College.
DeSantis is facing off against state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the state's Aug. 28 Republican primary. The contest is the latest GOP primary into which Trump has injected himself, having previously helped candidates in Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina with endorsements that have helped set the stage for the fall elections.
Last month, Trump endorsed DeSantis, saying that he would be "strong on borders, tough on crime [and] big on cutting taxes."
Florida represented a crucial triumph for Trump in the 2016 presidential election and the president has maintained a steady presence in the state, returning frequently to his winter home in Palm Beach.
DeSantis has tied his campaign for governor directly to Trump, even teaching one of his two children to "build the wall" with blocks in a recent campaign ad.
Putnam, a and former congressman, has run a more traditional campaign for governor, barnstorming the state with campaign events aimed at building upon his family's deep ties to the state.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.