Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam continued a pivot to the right over the weekend, channeling what appeared to be the GOP gubernatorial candidate’s inner Trump even as Putnam drew fire from fellow Republicans for what one called “pandering to the NRA.”
Putnam tweeted a link Saturday to an online petition, launched by his campaign, condemning CNN for “fake news.”
“Aren’t you tired of the liberals taking fake news to new extremes? I am. Sign the petition to stop CNN,” Putnam tweeted on Saturday.
There’s no evidence that the news network has aired anything specifically about Putnam or the Florida Republican governor’s primary that could have raised Putnam’s ire.
Instead, the slam on CNN appears to be an attempt by Putnam to endear himself with Republican base voters and supporters of President Donald Trump, who collectively have been harsh and frequent critics of the news network.
It’s also a sign that Putnam, who has the highest name recognition in the gubernatorial field and has some $11 million in unspent campaign cash, is attempting to boost his conservative creds in anticipation of potential attacks next year from other GOP candidates who are almost certain to question Putnam’s record in Congress and as a two-term Cabinet member.
U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, two prominent conservative Republicans, are raising money and have expressed an interest in joining the race to replace Gov. Rick Scott, who is leaving office because of term limits.
Moderate Republicans — including Sen. Jack Latvala, who’s mulling a run for governor — piled onto Putnam over the weekend.
The criticism came in reaction to a tweet from Putnam last week, who was responding to a column by Daniel Ruth of The Tampa Bay Times.
“The liberal media recently called me a sellout to the NRA. I’m a proud #NRASellout!” —Putnam (@adamputnam), tweeted.
Latvala, the powerful Senate budget chief who’s expected to make an announcement on Aug. 16 regarding a bid for governor, on Sunday took a Twitter shot at Putnam.
“I will never sell out to anyone, anytime,” Latvala tweeted, who posted a link to a Pensacola News Journal editorial critical of Putnam.
“This may be perfectly predictable behavior from a Republican vying to become Florida’s next governor. But it’s hardly a declaration of leadership or individualism,” the editorial stated.
Former Rep. Ray Pilon, a Sarasota Republican, joined in the Twitter chorus Monday morning.
“@adamputnam can’t tell you how shocked and disappointed I am in your pandering to the NRA and I am a lifetime member,” Pilon (@PilonForFlorida) tweeted.
— Posted by Lloyd Dunkelberger and Jim Turner.