Gillum, DeSantis Bash Each Other in First Debate

Gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum at a town hall Friday at St. Petersburg College in St. Petersburg Florida

Gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum at a town hall Friday at St. Petersburg College in St. Petersburg Florida

It was a quick but important exchange between Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum during Sunday night's debate on CNN, when Gillum touted the release of his tax returns and accused DeSantis of withholding his.

He also said the president would "probably" campaign for him again before the November 6 election, though he did not say whether he has asked the president to return to Florida.

That dynamic was in full display in the segment excerpted above. DeSantis supports the NRA and claims that's one of the reasons he has the support of 50 Florida sheriffs.

At a campaign stop on Friday, Gillum, the young progressive mayor of Tallahassee, predicted the Republican former congressman would hit him low and hard - then warned he was prepared to return the favor.

"Donald Trump is weak", Gillum said. Tonight, all DeSantis offered to the people of Florida were lies and falsehoods - and his uneven performance made clear that he is more fit for a Fox News green room than the Governor's Mansion.

Watch the clip above courtesy of CNN. "I have been black all my life". Gillum, the first African American gubernatorial nominee from either major party, said, "I don't take free trips from anybody".

After DeSantis finished speaking, Gillum feigned confusion about the question, prompting Tapper to repeat it.

DeSantis's tax returns show he owed money, while Gillum's returns show he was eligible for a refund.

To explain his candidacy, Gillum said, "I'm here this evening standing for anybody who has ever been told that they don't belong, that they didn't come from the right background or the right pedigree".

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Pressed Monday morning by Quijano on whether Mr. Trump is a role model for his children, DeSantis said that the media is "obsessed" with highlighting his embrace of the president for his kids.

DeSantis also said that he would work with Trump if he were elected.

But Gillum, who has harshly criticized Trump and has in fact called for the president to be impeached, disagreed. He noted that as the capital's mayor he had worked with present Governor Rick Scott (who the new poll also showed trailing incumbent Bill Nelson in the race for Senate) during the recent landfall of Hurricane Michael, and said he would work with the president when necessary. "We would like him to come", he said. Gillum has said repeatedly that the Federal Bureau of Investigation informed him he is not a focus of the probe. DeSantis denied the comment was about race, but Gillum alleged that the Republican's campaign has tried to undermine his with racist dog whistles.

"You need to be able to work with the administration to be able to get the dollars we deserve", said DeSantis, who repeatedly referred to Gillum as "Andrew" throughout the debate.

But Gillum lashed back, accusing DeSantis of spending $145,000 on taxpayer-funded trips before he resigned from Congress and refusing to provide the receipts for the travel. "And the truth is, you know what?" He then pointed to his record in the U.S. Navy as evidence he isn't prejudiced.

DeSantis said local law enforcement and school officials "let them down" by not acting sooner to detain the shooter and address his mental health issues sooner.

Blaise Ingoglia, Republican Party of Florida chair, also issued a statement: "Tonight we saw a stark contrast between a selfless veteran who is ready to lead and a self-serving career politician who eluded as many questions on the debate stage as he has been eluding questions from the Federal Bureau of Investigation".

Gillum flinched a bit, not defending the program which is a non-starter in Florida and most states around the country, instead seeking to talk up his plans to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.

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