DeSantis, Gillum Tackle Trump and More in Florida Debate

Gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum at a town hall Friday at St. Petersburg College in St. Petersburg Florida

Sunday night's debate was a raucous affair, as the candidates often interrupted one another, exaggerated each others' records, and played to their bases.

Gillum then accused DeSantis of trying to undermine another federal probe, the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into potential ties between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russian Federation.

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 President Barack Obama the N-word on Twitter.

"In Trump's America we've been led to believe that we've got to step on our neighbor's shoulder and their face and their backs in order to get ahead", he said.

"That's what I thought", Gillum said, drawing laughter from the audience.

Though his upset victory in the primary was driven by an endorsement from President Donald Trump, DeSantis sought to keep some space from the President, never quite answering whether he considered Trump a good "role model", and instead talking up the administration's decision to move the United States embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

DeSantis responded by saying he thought Trump did the right thing by moving the USA embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

If you are confused by that non-sequitur, then you have something in common with Mayor Gillum, who asked Tapper to repeat the question.

"Donald Trump is weak", Gillum said. They become bullies, and Mr DeSantis is his acolyte. "At every turn he's tweeting him". "He's showing up. He's complimenting him".

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Former Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum squared off Sunday on CNN, clearly setting out their differences.

In the race for Florida's U.S. Senate seat, Republican Rick Scott has a narrow lead over Democrat incumbent Bill Nelson, 49 to 47 percent.

"I'm going to do everything I can to have a debate that is deserving of the people of Florida", Gillum said.

Gillum implied that DeSantis has aligned himself with racists through social media and speeches he's made. Gillum didn't say, and instead reaffirmed his support for expanding Medicaid, a federal and state low-income health care program that Republicans in Tallahassee have repeatedly limited in scope. "He's involved in corruption".

However, it was a reflection of one of the underlying questions facing voters this November: Who is best suited to lead the state in the era of Trump - someone who will stand up to the administration or someone who is a close ally of the president?

The county in which Tallahassee sits has the highest crime rate in Florida, but the numbers have improved during his tenure, Gillum argued.

On another big environmental issue in the race - the toxic algae blooms that have been plaguing the state - DeSantis repeatedly pointed to his endorsement by the Everglades Trust while Gillum called him an "election year environmentalist".

Gillum and DeSantis also scuffled on the economy and race. "So far as I know, I will die black".

Gillum responded, "He has only continued in the course of his campaign to draw all the attention he can to the color of my skin. I know that may not fit your description of what you think people like me do but I've worked hard for everything that I've gotten in my life and I don't need anybody handing me anything for free".


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