After tweeting yesterday morning that Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum is a “thief,” President Donald Trump escalated the rhetoric during an interview with Laura Ingraham on Fox News last night.
The presidential vitriol comes as voters are already casting early ballots in advance of the election, just a week away, and as Trump prepares to storm the Sunshine State to rally support for Gillum’s opponent, Ron DeSantis, and Gov. Rick Scott, who’s trying to unseat incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.
According to Trump, Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, isn’t just a “thief,” he’s a “stone-cold thief.” Trump was referring to a ticket for the Broadway smash hit “Hamilton,” supplied by undercover agent “Mike Miller” two years ago.
“The FBI offered him tickets at $1,800 apiece and he took them. He took a trip with the same FBI agent. I guess he was posing as a developer or something. The man, stone-cold took this stuff. I don’t even think he should be allowed to continue on with the race,” Trump said.
Gillum is mayor of a city “known as one of the most corrupt in Florida and one of the most corrupt in the nation,” the president went on.
“He’s a disaster and how he’s even close to being tied is hard to believe,” Trump said of Gillum.
Recent polls have shown DeSantis trailing or tied with Gillum, who’s trying to make history as the state’s first black governor.
Trump also warned that “Florida will become Venezuela” if Gillum is elected.
“It will be a disaster,” the part-time Florida man predicted.
DeSantis, on the other hand, “is a Harvard, Yale guy” and “a very good person,” Trump went on.
“This other guy, is a stone-cold, in my opinion, he’s a thief,” Trump said of Gillum. “How can you have a guy like this?”
Trump’s intervention on DeSantis’ behalf has only intensified the widespread focus on the spectacle known as the Florida governor’s race, and Gillum took to national media to pooh-pooh the president’s accusations.
Last night on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, Gillum said Trump needs to “grow up.”
Trump targeted Gillum with his tweets as the nation was reeling from the worst anti-Semitic shooting in history. Eleven congregants at a Jewish temple in Pittsburgh were shot and killed on Saturday. The mass shooting came a day after authorities arrested a Florida man who mailed pipe bombs to at least a dozen of Trump’s Democratic critics — including the Clintons and the Obamas.
“Our president instead of rising to the occasion, every opportunity that he gets, to really show that he’s a leader, a leader that can cut through, cut across in the moments where the American people could really use leadership the most, he repeatedly fails us,” Gillum told Maddow.
Trump “spent his day today tweeting about me, tweeting at me, tweeting lies, rather than working to tamp down the kind of division and derision that he himself has helped to stoke,” he went on.
Maddow asked Gillum to elaborate on a tweet in which he called Trump “weak.”
“He performs as all weak people do, by bullying others. You’re talking about the most powerful position in the free world and the president of the United States takes time to badger me, to bully me on Twitter? I mean, it just doesn’t make any sense. The president needs to grow up. He needs to do his job. He needs to lead. This country could use leadership at this moment, and instead he’s throwing insults across Twitter,” he said.