Hours before President Trump was scheduled to speak outside a Fort Myers rally for Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott Wednesday, a group of Florida Democratic members of Congress blasted the president, specifically for his tweet labeling gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum as “a thief.”
Trump tweeted on Tuesday, “In Florida there is a choice between a Harvard/Yale educated man named @RonDeSantisFL who has been a great Congressman and will be a great Governor – and a Dem who is a thief and who is Mayor of poorly run Tallahassee, said to be one of the most corrupt cities in the Country!”
In Florida there is a choice between a Harvard/Yale educated man named @RonDeSantisFL who has been a great Congressman and will be a great Governor – and a Dem who is a thief and who is Mayor of poorly run Tallahassee, said to be one of the most corrupt cities in the Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 29, 2018
He went even further in criticizing Gillum on Monday night, telling Fox News’s Laura Ingraham that “he’s a stone-cold thief.”
Needless to say, the Democrats took umbrage.
South Florida Congressman Alcee Hastings said in a conference call with reporters that Trump “is beyond being a con artist. He is a crook, and if you don’t think so, ask the people at Trump University. Ask him where are his taxes? He should be the last person that says anything at all about anybody with the kind of record that he has.”
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the president’s comments against Gillum were “fabricated and unacceptable.”
“Words matter, and the words that President Trump has spewed during his tenure as president have been untrue and have been lies so many times that it’s not surprising that he would hurdle such a disgusting accusation at Mayor Gillum,” she said.
Miami area U.S. Representative Frederica Wilson says Trump’s tweet was just the latest insult that she labeled “libelous, slanderous and racist.”
Wilson went on to say that the positive attention that Gillum is getting in Florida and nationally in his race for governor scares Trump because the president is worried that his own reelection bid in 2020 is threatened if the Tallahassee mayor is elected instead of the Trump-endorsed candidate DeSantis.
Republicans have seized on text and email records released last week that they say is evidence that an ongoing federal corruption probe in Tallahassee is closer to Gillum that has previously been reported.
Gillum has said the FBI specifically told him that he is not under investigation, and news reports about the federal probe of real estate dealings in Tallahassee have not suggested he is a target. But that didn’t stop White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders from repeating Tuesday that Gillum was under investigation by the FBI when explaining what Trump meant by calling him a “thief.”