TAMPA — Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) endorsed Donald Trump during a campaign rally here Monday afternoon ahead of the state's winner-take-all primary Tuesday.
Last June, Bondi endorsed former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who at the time was the race's clear front-runner but has since dropped out. Bondi then picked Trump over her state's senator, Marco Rubio, whose campaign is floundering. During the 2012 election, Bondi was an active surrogate for Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
"As attorney general, I look around this country and this world, and it frightens me now — and it should frighten all of us," Bondi said at a small rally at a convention center in Tampa on Monday afternoon. "We live in a changing world, and we need leadership. We need someone who is unafraid to lead and restore America to its greatness. And today I am proud to endorse Donald Trump."
Bondi was drowned out by the crowd but then continued: "You are speaking loud and clear, and Americans are speaking loud and clear. Look at what is happening to this process. Look at how many people Donald Trump is bringing out in America. What does that say for our democracy? Like never before, like never, ever before."
Bondi became the state's attorney general in 2011, and her name is on the speculative list of possible gubernatorial candidates for the 2018 race.
In 2013, Bondi faced criticism for declining to prosecute one of Trump's businesses, Trump University, which faces fraud charges in New York. Three days after the attorney general's office announced that it was reviewing allegations against Trump University, one of Trump's foundations donated $25,000 to a political committee tied to Bondi's reelection campaign, according to local media reports.
Trump was joined on the campaign trail Monday by two other big-name endorsers: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
Palin has been campaigning for Trump in Florida, but said she planned to leave early because her husband was seriously injured in "a little wreck on a snow machine." Palin canceled a midday campaign stop at a Florida retirement community, but joined Trump at his Tampa rally, speaking for about five minutes, then sitting off stage and actively listening to Trump's nearly hour-long remarks that included answering a few audience questions.
Palin said that even though she is dealing with this family crisis, it's important to spend time helping Trump get elected.
"What we don't have time for is all that petty, punk-ass little thuggery stuff that's been going on," Palin said, referring to protesters who have targeted Trump's rallies in Chicago and elsewhere. She accused the protesters of endangering the First Amendment rights of Trump's supporters to peacefully assemble and the media of "being on the thugs' side."
Ed O'Keefe contributed to this report.