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President Trump and Bernie Sanders draw battle lines in Florida governor's race

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum; Sen. Bernie Sanders (Photos: Wilfredo Lee/AP, Rogelio V. Solis/AP)

One day after President Trump held a raucous rally in Tampa to stump for front-runner Ron DeSantis in the Florida governor’s race, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has endorsed long shot progressive candidate Andrew Gillum.

Florida still must hold its primary on Aug. 28, but a Mason-Dixon poll released last week shows Gillum, who is the mayor of Tallahassee, trailing three other Democrats in the race — Gwen Graham, Philip Levine and Jeff Greene.

“I’m proud to endorse Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in his race for governor of Florida,” Sanders said in a statement released Wednesday. “As governor, Andrew Gillum will work to provide health care for all through a Medicare-for-All program, raise the minimum wage to a living wage, invest in sustainable energy, improve education, make sure the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share of taxes, and be welcoming to immigrants. Andrew has never backed down from a fight, including beating the NRA and standing up against xenophobic politicians. Andrew Gillum will set a new course for Florida — a governor who represents all the people and not just powerful special interests.” 

President Trump greets Ron DeSantis during a rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa on Tuesday.  (Photo: ©James Borchuck/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Wire)

Ahead of the Aug. 28 Republican primary, DeSantis — a U.S. representative from the area around Daytona Beach — holds a commanding 41 percent to 29 percent lead over his closest challenger, Adam Putnam, in the same Mason-Dixon poll.

“I’d like to introduce a true leader, a proud veteran, my great friend, a tough, brilliant cookie — true, he’s tough, he’s smart and he loves Florida and he loves our country and he’s going to be your next governor — Ron DeSantis,”  Trump said Tuesday in Tampa. 

While Gillum has sought to distinguish himself as the progressive champion in a crowded Democratic field, DeSantis made it clear that he fully supports Trump’s White House agenda, releasing an ad that portrayed the candidate as something of a rubber stamp for the president.

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