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Gillum goes after Trump for 'reckless rhetoric,' GOP Senate candidate says it's 'wrong' to end birthright citizenship

The president and the Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate continued to clash Tuesday, with Gillum striking back on the campaign trail.
Image: Andrew Gillum
Democratic candidate for Florida governor Andrew Gillum speaks to students and supporters at Bethune-Cookman University on Oct. 26, 2018, in Daytona Beach, Florida.John Raoux / AP

Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum said Tuesday that President Donald Trump and fellow Republicans are providing "cover" for extremists to conduct political violence during a campaign rally in New Port Richey.

Gillum said his opponent, former Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis, "is now joined by Donald Trump and the campaign of distractions and the campaign of divisions and derision, a campaign to make us fearful of each other so we can't see each other's humanity, a campaign that is providing cover for people who are now taking their political differences and going to the next extreme to create political violence."

"This is unacceptable in civilized society," he continued. "This is not the American way."

Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, made the comments days after officials said a man who has expressed anti-Semitic views shot and killed 11 worshippers and wounded others at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, and after federal law enforcement arrested Cesar Sayoc for allegedly mailing more than a dozen pipe bomb packages to high-profile figures who have been critical of the president.

Separately, in an interview with SiriusXM's "The Karen Hunter Show," Gillum said communities are under attack "largely because of the reckless rhetoric by Donald Trump and his acolytes," adding that his opponent uses "the same kind of highly charged rhetoric" to paint him as anti-law enforcement.

"This bomber, here in the state of Florida, had a hit list of 100 people. He sent bombs all across the country targeting prominent Democrats who have criticized the president," Gillum said. "And these folks to think they bear no responsibility for that."

Gillum's remarks are the latest in a pre-Election Day war of words between Gillum and the president, who called the Democrat a "stone-cold thief" during an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham Monday night while talking up DeSantis.

Gillum, who earlier Monday called Trump "weak," said on Twitter that the president was lying about him.

"I heard @realDonaldTrump ran home to @FoxNews to lie about me," Gillum wrote. "But as my grandmother told me — never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but the pig likes it. So ignore him and vote, Florida!"

Trump's claims appear tied to an FBI investigation into Tallahassee's city government, though there is no evidence that Gillum is personally under investigation.

Al Cardenas, former chair of the Florida Republican party, said on MSNBC Tuesday that feuding with Gillum might not be the best way for Trump to ensure a GOP victory in the race.

"I think the main message for Republicans in Florida is the economy is going great. We’ve created more jobs than any other state," Cardenas said, adding, "But coming down here to Florida and taking on the Democrat candidate for governor, I don't think is a recipe to win. But we'll see."

Meanwhile, at a campaign event in nearby Tampa, DeSantis backed the president's decision to send thousands of troops to the nation's southern border in response to a caravan of Honduran migrants approaching from Mexico. Though the caravan is weeks away from reaching the border, Trump opted to move the troops ahead of next week's midterms.

"This is to try to prove a point that people basically can overrun our border," DeSantis said, according to The Tampa Bay Times. "We're either a sovereign country or we're not, and the president needs to step up and support national sovereignty. "They're not really even refugees because the Mexican government offered them to be able to stay in Mexico, and they rejected that."

New Jersey

Amid a surprisingly tight race with Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, Republican challenger Bob Hugin distanced himself on Tuesday from Trump's declared intention to end birthright citizenship through executive order — even though birthright citizenship is rooted in the interpretation of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which can't be changed by a presidential order.

Hugin said the president is "wrong" to take such action.

In an interview with "Axios on HBO," Trump said he plans to sign an executive order to end birthright citizenship for children born on U.S. soil to parents who are not U.S. citizens.

Such an executive order would fly in the face of the 14th Amendment, which states that "all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."


Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, formerly the top Democrat in the Georgia State House of Representatives, told ABC's "The View" on Tuesday that her Republican opponent, Brian Kemp, is undermining confidence in democracy through his actions as the current secretary of state.

The Kemp controversy centers around his office purging tens of thousands of voters, most of whom are black, from voter rolls ahead of next week's election. Kemp has denied that he is attempting to suppress the black vote, saying that he is simply following the law.

Former President Jimmy Carter, a Georgian, recently called for Kemp to resign from his position, which oversees the election he hopes to win.


Former Vice President Joe Biden hit the campaign trail in Wisconsin on Tuesday, stumping for Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers.

In his speech, Biden called on "our leaders to change the tone in both parties" and to "dial the temperature down."

But Biden, a rumored 2020 presidential contender, did take aim at the Trump administration in his remarks, saying he is "sick and tired of this administration."

Biden also pointed to the pipe bombs mailed to leaders on the left, including himself, saying that "our kids, our grandkids, could've picked them up."


Democratic House candidate MJ Hegar, an Air Force veteran, told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell on Tuesday that she is excited about the substantial number of women veterans who are running on both the Democratic and Republican tickets.

As Mitchell noted, Hegar served three tours of duty in Afghanistan and was injured in combat during an intense fire fight with the Taliban.

"Women's veterans, especially combat veterans, have already worked for decades in male-dominated fields and have been able to distinguish themselves," Hegar said. "I never thought of myself as a female pilot, I was just a pilot. It's not easy to intimidate us. And we've already kind of proven our mettle."

Obama weighs in...on health care

Former President Barack Obama, who has been active on the campaign trail over the past week, tweeted a reminder of another issue on the ballot.

In the closing days of their campaigns, Democratic candidates have favored closing arguments focused on health care, taxes, and protecting entitlements.


Democratic Sen. Jon Tester's campaign sent out a fundraising email on Tuesday that caught some attention on social media. Titled "Seven fingers, seven days," the email featured a smiling Tester holding up each of his seven fingers to signify how many days were left before Election Day next week.

When Tester was a child, he lost the three middle fingers of his left hand in a meat-grinder accident.