Trump rallies support for Scott, DeSantis in Florida midterm contests

Trump rallies support for Scott, DeSantis in Florida midterm contests
Trump rallies support for Scott, DeSantis in Florida midterm contests

President Trump endorsed Florida Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis Tuesday as two of the state's top Republican elected officials seek higher office in November's midterm elections.

The president headlined a rally for DeSantis at Tampa's Florida State Fairgrounds with four weeks to go before the Aug. 28 Republican gubernatorial primary, in which the congressman will face off against state Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam.

Trump touted DeSantis as "a true leader", "a proud veteran", "my great friend" and predicted: "he's going to be your next governor."

"I appreciate your support, Mr. President," DeSantis said when Trump called him up on stage. "But I appreciate more the leadership you're showing for our great country."

Trump also implored supporters to back Scott against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, whom he said was "[Chuck] Schumer-controlled, [and] Nancy Pelosi-controlled."

"You know, I live a lot of time in Florida," Trump said. "The only time I see Bill Nelson is five months before every election. And after a while, you forget: 'Who's the senator?' But around five months, you see him at parties and you see him around ... We have to make sure that Rick Scott wins and wins big."

The Florida gubernatorial 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.

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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.

Appearing at a technical school in Tampa earlier Tuesday, Trump praised the strength of the economy, telling students and faculty members there was never a better time to learn new skills and gain employment. He was joined by Scott, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump and several members of Congress from Florida.

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.

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