FORT MYERS, Fla.—President Donald Trump focused his Oct. 31 rally in Fort Myers, Florida, on supporting Republican candidates Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis, who are running neck and neck in the polls with their Democratic opponents.
“In less than one week, Americans will go to the polls in one of the most important elections of our entire lives,” Trump said, adding, “Although, I will say, not as important as 2016.”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott is running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).
Trump praised Scott as “one of the best governors,” while Scott returned the praise for Trump’s delivery on disaster relief after two deadly hurricanes—Florence in September and Michael in October—pummeled the state.
“There’s absolutely nothing that I’ve asked from Donald Trump with regard to these two hurricanes that he hasn’t come through,” Scott said.
He promised to support Trump on cutting taxes, improving border security, and reducing government debt.
DeSantis is running to succeed Scott as governor. A Navy veteran of the Iraq War, DeSantis made a pitch for his conservative platform, backed up by six years in Congress representing Florida’s 6th District.
“I’m the only candidate that ain’t gonna raise your taxes here in Florida,” he said. “And I’m the only guy that can credibly say I’m not under investigation for corruption by the FBI.”
His opponent, Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Florida’s capital city Tallahassee, is reportedly on the edges of, but not the focus of, an ongoing FBI investigation into corruption in the state government, according to the Sun-Sentinel. The FBI is investigating whether the city directed redevelopment funds to specific projects to favor friends and acquaintances.
Meanwhile, in 2016, Gillum accepted a ticket to the play “Hamilton” in New York paid for by an undercover FBI agent who was posing as a businessman trying to bribe politicians. The cheapest “Hamilton” tickets in July 2016 ran for $350 apiece, according to SeatGeek.com. Gillum has said he thought the ticket was paid for by his brother and has denied any wrongdoing.
While polls show both Scott and DeSantis in virtual ties with their opponents, several attendants of the rally questioned the numbers, recalling the inaccurate poll data before the 2016 presidential election, which Hillary Clinton was largely predicted to win.
“I’m hoping this time they’re wrong again,” rallygoer Sandy Kiehl said. “Maybe they’re not asking the right people.”
Trump supporters and brother Ryan, 28, and Dylan Kren, 26, agreed.
“The one thing I know is all the polls before the election in 2016 said Donald Trump was gonna lose, and I think that DeSantis is going to win in a landslide, by far,” Ryan Kren said.
“I would just not underestimate the spirit of freedom that resides in the American people,” his brother said.
Paul J. Philabaun said he doesn’t “believe the polls, at all.”
“I watched the governors’ debates and it seemed that the other guy there [Gillum] was just talking around the questions, while DeSantis actually directed the questions,” he said.
Philabaun had never voted in a midterm election before, but this time, he has already cast his vote.
“There’s apparently a civil war going on right now and we want our side to win,” he said.
Dylan Kren said he thinks Gillum would steer Florida towards socialism.
“I think the political and economic philosophies of Karl Marx have been implemented in other countries and have produced miserable murderous regimes. We’re educated and we’re aware of those implications,” he said.
At the beginning of the rally, Project Veritas Action released a video where Gillum campaign staffers are caught on camera saying the candidate hides his aggressively leftist positions from moderate Florida voters.
“Gillum is a progressive,” campaign staffer Omar Smith said. “He’s part of the crazy, crazy, crazies.”
Trump called Gillum a “radical socialist” at the rally.
“The people of Florida are going to reject socialism and elect Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott,” he said.
Epoch Times staff member Charlotte Cuthbertson contributed to this report.