President Trump and Andrew Gillum, the surprise Democratic winner of Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, exchanged barbs on Wednesday morning, underscoring the role the president is expected to play in a marquee race this fall.
In a morning tweet, Trump attacked Gillum as a “failed Socialist Mayor” and called him the “biggest dream” for Rep. Ron DeSantis, a Republican whose victory in Tuesday’s GOP primary was propelled by Trump’s endorsement over a more moderate opponent.
Trump alleged that Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, “has allowed crime & many other problems to flourish in his city,” adding: “This is not what Florida wants or needs!”
Gillum has embraced liberal policies, such as a “Medicare-for-all” health-care system, but he has not identified as a socialist. Overall crime was down in Tallahassee last year but the city saw a spike in homicides.
Trump’s tweet followed closely on the heels of a national television appearance by Gillum, in which he said he does not fear Trump’s expected heavy involvement in the general election — and called for Trump’s impeachment.
“Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis are both scraping from the bottom of the barrel,” Gillum said on CNN. “I actually believe that Florida and its rich diversity are going to be looking for a governor that’s going to bring us together, not divide us, not misogynist, not racists, not bigots.”
“They’re going to be looking for a governor who is going to appeal to our higher aspirations as a state, who’s going to talk about what it means to build a Florida that makes room for all of us and not just some of us,” Gillum continued. “DeSantis can do the bidding of big business and big lobbyists and Donald Trump and his divisive rhetoric. I’m going to be here to do the business of the people of the state of Florida.”
During the interview, Gillum also said he “absolutely” believes Trump should be impeached.
“He’s already incriminated himself by interfering with the Department of Justice,” Gillum said.
During the interview, Gillum also downplayed an ongoing FBI investigation into possible corruption at Tallahassee City Hall that has not implicated him.
“Should there be individuals who did anything inappropriately, what we’ve said is they ought to be held fully accountable,” Gillum said.
Gillum, who was backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, became the second African American gubernatorial nominee in the South this year. Democrat Stacey Abrams won the party’s nomination in Georgia in May.
After Trump’s tweet posted on Wednesday, Gillum responded to him on Twitter, writing: “What our state and country needs is decency, hope, and leadership.”
During a morning television interview, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said DeSantis had fully embraced Trump’s endorsement.
“He took that endorsement from the president, and he wore it very proudly,” she said on Fox News.
Sean Sullivan and David Weigel contributed to this report.