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Trump Honors Pittsburgh Dead — and Knocks ‘Far-Left Media’ — at Florida Rally

Roll Call logo Roll Call 11/1/2018 johnbennett@cqrollcall.com
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Video by The Washington Post

President Donald Trump led off a midterms campaign rally in Florida on Wednesday by blaming the “far-left media” for exploiting the Pittsburgh synagogue mass shooting to hurt him and Republicans as the elections near.

“They did everything in their power to … push people apart,” he said. “It was fake and it was make-believe. … The far-left media has spread lies and misinformation about the Trump administration.”

“They want to stoke resentment,” he said of the media.

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Trump began his final midterms tour in Fort Myers, aiming to give a boost to Gov. Rick Scott as he tries to oust incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

He called Scott an “unbelievable talent” who always “calls up with incredible news,” lauding the Senate candidate for his response to several hurricanes in the state. He said a Sen. Scott would “keep the Florida [economic] boom in full swing.”

Trump also tied Nelson to “radical” congressional Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Charles E. Schumer. He also said Nelson is for “open borders,” a false claim he makes about every Democratic candidate.

Taking the presidential podium, Scott praised Trump for his hurricane response efforts, saying the chief executive pledges to “do whatever you want.”

The crowd responded with a chant: “Trump! Trump! Trump!”

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Estero, Florida, U.S., October 31, 2018.   REUTERS/Carlos Barria © REUTERS/Carlos Barria U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Estero, Florida, U.S., October 31, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Scott hammered Nelson for being in office so long and voting against the GOP tax law that Trump signed last December. He also hit the incumbent for, allegedly, helping add to the federal deficit. (Fact check: Nonpartisan experts say the Republican tax overhaul will spike the deficit.)

Trump is also stumping for former GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis, who is trying to defeat Tallahassee Democratic Mayor Andrew Gillum in the Sunshine State’s governor’s race. On Monday morning, Trump called Gillum a “thief” in a tweet.

Speaking to the Fort Myers crowd, DeSantis painted Gillum as a possible criminal, saying, “I’m the only  guy who's not under investigation by the FBI.” Gillum has said he is not the target of an FBI investigation into corruption in Tallahassee though he is under a state ethics probe into trips he has taken as mayor.

DeSantis also alleged that Gillum want to raise taxes by “40 percent.”

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the Florida Senate race a Toss-up. Recent polls of the gubernatorial contest give Gillum a small lead as campaigning enters its final days.

Trump told rallygoers “Rick and Ron” would win next week. At one point, he said the midterms may not be as important as the 2016 election that put him in the White House — he called “movement” that delivered him to the White House the “greatest” in American history. But Tuesday’s outcomes will determine whether the president’s envisioned domestic agenda is possible and whether House Democrats will gain investigative, and subpoena, powers to probe his presidency.

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The crowd responded by chanting “Build The Wall,” prompting Trump to say two Central American migrant caravans will be stopped before illegally stepping foot on American soil. He has made those approaching groups perhaps the defining issue for undecided voters — or ones who are unsure whether they will get to the polls.

Trump is focusing his final-days push on Midwestern and Mid-Southern states — but Florida is the exception as he will make two stop there in the race’s final six days. He will return for a Saturday evening rally in Pensacola, underscoring how badly Trump and GOP leaders want to win both races.

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