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Ron DeSantis Focuses On Andrew Gillum During Tampa Stop

Steve Newborn
WUSF Public Media
Ron DeSantis is joined on stage by Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, far left, and his wife Casey to his left. Rep. Chris Sprowls and Rep. Jackie Toledo are to his right

Congressman Ron DeSantis made two stops in Tampa Thursday as part of his campaign for governor. He touched lightly on his proposals for office, focusing mostly on attacking his Democratic opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.
During a stop at the Italian Club in Ybor City, DeSantis briefly brought up the state's red tide and algae outbreaks.

There, he vowed to consolidate the state's cleanup efforts solely under the Department of Environmental Protection. DeSantis said that he would use his Washington connections to spur the Army Corps of Engineers -- which controls the flow of water from Lake Okeechobee -- to build reservoirs south of Lake Okeeochobee.

"And so I'm going to go to the president, go to the key people in the administration and say, 'Hey, we need to get this thing moving forward as quickly as possible,"" he said. "I don't want to wait 12 years. I want to get it done. And if you do that, then you don't have to discharge water east and west anymore. Because you'd be able to clean it, send it south, it helps the Everglades, which needs the water, and it helps Florida Bay, which needs the water."

DeSantis vowed his first visit after being elected would be to Israel. There, he would research efforts to combat red tide.

"Certainly, we need to be looking at whatever technology is out there to battle red tide. And I'm going to go to Israel," he said. "That is something I want to see how they would deal with it. Because if we can employ some good technology, we may be able to avert some of these catastrophes from happening in the first place."

But DeSantis spent much of his 25-minute speech attacking Gillum for wanting to raise corporate income taxes. He said Gillum is a leftist tied to international financier George Soros, who he called out of touch with most of Florida.  

"What our opponent is offering is far-left, radical politics -- Bernie Sanders, raising taxes, abolishing ICE, impeaching Trump," he said. "All that stuff may make George Soros' heart flutter, but that's not what we need here for the hard-working taxpayers of Florida."

He also attacked Gillum's record in Tallahassee, saying it's had the highest crime rate in Florida the past four years. And his opponent's comments calling for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be "replaced with a more compassionate and focused agency" would only add to the crime problem, DeSantis said.

"Gillum doesn't understand what we need to do to keep our communitites safe," he told the crowd. "Look what he's running on: he wants to have open borders and he wants to abolish Immgration and Customs Enforcement. So how the hell would that work?"

DeSantis has drawn even in recent polls with Gillum, who had a bump in his approval ratings after winning the Democratic primary.

Credit Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media
WUSF Public Media
Ron and Casey DeSantis meet with reporters after his speech

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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