President Trump took aim at Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum on Monday in a tweet highlighting revelations about an FBI investigation involving the Tallahassee mayor. In response, Gillum decried the president as “weak” and dedicated segments of his appearances at events in front of black supporters and union teachers to ripping the president for attempting to tear down others’ “humanity.”
“In Florida there is a choice between a Harvard/Yale educated man named @RonDeSantisFL who has been a great Congressman and will be a great Governor – and a Dem who is a thief and who is Mayor of poorly run Tallahassee, said to be one of the most corrupt cities in the Country!” Trump tweeted Monday morning.
Trump’s “thief” dig is a reference to revelations from a Florida ethics filing revealing that Gillum appears to have misled voters about his actions involving reimbursement for a vacation and a gift given to him by an undercover FBI agent. On Tuesday, Politico reported that records turned over to the Florida Commission on Ethics by Adam Corey, “a lobbyist and longtime ally of Gillum,” revealed that Gillum did accept tickets for “Hamilton” from an agent, which he has denied, and while Gillum says he personally paid for a hotel during a trip to Costa Rica, records indicate otherwise (formatting adjusted):
In one of the emails, from June 2016, Corey promised his accountant a breakdown of an $8,868 credit card charge. Corey’s assistant later responded with a list of people to invoice. That list shows that Gillum and his wife, R. Jai Gillum, were responsible for $941.95, but that line was crossed out. A note next to it said, “HOLD ON BILLING.” Gillum’s email address was not included in a subsequent list of people who were invoiced for taking part in the Costa Rica trip. In September, Kise said his client never received money from Gillum.
Gillum quickly responded to Trump’s taunt on social media. “On Twitter there is a choice between having the courage to @ the person you are trash talking, or not. @realDonaldTrump is howling because he’s weak,” the candidate wrote. “Florida, go vote today.”
Gillum also spent some time during events at an African-American library and a teachers’ union headquarters in Dade and Broward Counties Monday portraying Trump as divisive and someone who seeks to tear down others’ humanity.
The Sun-Sentinel reports that when Gillum mentioned Trump’s name at the teachers’ union event, the teachers booed.
“This man has a responsibility to stand up and to speak out against hatred and division,” said Gillum. “And instead every single day he gets on Twitter and goes to rallies and he stokes fear. His only goal is to make us afraid of each other so that we don’t trust one another so that we don’t respect each other’s humanity anymore.”
In response to a heckler that was causing a stir at one of the events, Gillum said, “The other side in their rhetoric, they’re going to continue to be loud and distracting and negative. But, honestly, listen, if Donald Trump were the man you elected president, you’d probably be pretty depressed too.”
In response to reports detailing the findings in the FBI investigation, Gillum has accused Republicans who brought it up as part of a larger effort he describes as “obviously” promoting “racial stereotypes about black men.”
“What I want people to know, despite all the distractions — because I think the Republicans obviously want to distract, want to suggest, all along throughout this trail they have wanted people to believe that somehow I haven’t deserved what I’ve got, I’m unethical, participated in illegal and illicit activity, I mean you name it,” Gillum said in a video he posted to Facebook last week. “The goal is, obviously, to use my candidacy as a way to reinforce, frankly, stereotypes about black men,” he said.