Hillary Clinton to campaign for Andrew Gillum next month – will Donald Trump come for DeSantis?

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Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, top left; Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, top right; Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis, bottom left; U.S. President Donald Trump, bottom right. Credit: candidates' campaigns or websites.

Two years after Hillary Clinton lost the chance to make history by becoming America’s first female president, the former First Lady and U.S. Secretary of State hopes to help Florida make history by electing its first black governor – Andrew Gillum.

Clinton is scheduled to make a campaign appearance next month in South Florida with Gillum, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee. The date is Oct. 23 – with the time and place to be announced later.

“I’m honored to have Secretary Clinton join me in Florida next month,” Gillum said in a statement.

“Hillary knows just what’s at stake in this election – affordable healthcare, a brighter future for our children – and that the choice in this election could not be clearer.”

The Tallahassee mayor was on a list of contenders at one point to be Clinton’s running mate in her 2016 presidential campaign, according to an email written by Clinton campaign manager John Podesta. (That email was unveiled by Wikileaks.)

Clinton ultimately chose Virginia U.S. Senator Tim Kaine for that role.

Gillum supported Clinton over Vermont senator Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, and made appearances for Clinton in South Carolina and Kentucky, before landing a speaking spot at the Democratic National Convention that summer.

But it was Sanders who came to stump for Gillum in Florida during the competitive Democratic gubernatorial primary, making campaign appearances with the Tallahassee mayor in Tampa and Orlando last month.

Gillum’s primary victory last month has made him a national star, and there have been reports that former President Barack Obama may also campaign with Gillum in Florida in advance of the November 6 election.

Hillary Clinton has always been popular in Florida. Not only did she easily defeat Sanders in the March 2016 Democratic primary in Florida, but she also defeated Obama by more than 16 points when they ran against each other in their titantic 2008 race.

Trump defeated Clinton in the 2016 presidential election by just 1.4 percentage points.

The announcement of Clinton’s appearance comes the day after a major poll showed Gillum leading Republican opponent Ron DeSantis by nine points, the biggest lead in any survey conducted since the two advanced to the general election.

On Wednesday, the DeSantis campaign announced a campaign shakeup, with Susie Wiles – Trump’s campaign manager in Florida in the 2016 presidential race — taking over as campaign manager.

Clinton’s appearance also will now lead to speculation about whether President Donald Trump will make another campaign appearance for DeSantis, as he did during the primary in late July.

Trump’s early endorsement of DeSantis in the Republican gubernatorial race gave him an instant boost against presumptive gubernatorial front-runner Adam Putnam. The appearance with Trump has largely been credited with being the single biggest factor in DeSantis’ primary win.  After trailing Putnam for months in the polls, DeSantis took the lead over Putnam in early July, and never looked back.

However, in a rare rebuke of the president, DeSantis disputed a tweet by Trump earlier this month questioning how many people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria. That led to a report in POLITICO Florida that Trump was unhappy with DeSantis.

But in recent TV interview, DeSantis insisted the relationship with Trump has not changed.

In a statement, the Republican National Committee took notice that it was Sanders, and not Clinton, who has been the favorite of many Gillum supporters.

“Clinton’s sudden reemergence and fundraising tour will do far more to hurt Gillum’s cause than help it,” said RNC spokesperson Taryn Fenske. “Gillum’s socialist base isn’t going to like him aligning with Clinton who is tainted by decades of controversy and failed policies. Floridians rejected Hillary in 2016 – he better watch out or he’ll alienate his far-left base.”

Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry has spent the past 18 years covering news and politics in the Sunshine State, most recently with FloridaPolitics.com. He worked for five years as the political editor of Creative Loafing in Tampa, and before that he was the assistant news director at WMNF radio, where he served as creator/anchor/producer of the hour-long WMNF Evening News. A San Francisco native, Mitch began his career at KPFA Radio in Berkeley in the 1990's.

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