President Donald Trump on Tuesday celebrated Rep. Ron DeSantis capturing the Florida GOP gubernatorial nomination, and labeled his Democratic opponent Andrew Gillum a “a failed Socialist Mayor.”
Trump backed the conservative congressman over former Rep. Adam Putnam, the state’s agriculture commissioner, in a move that irked some Republican Party officials. But with 91 percent of precincts reporting, DeSantis was up by a wide margin, 56 percent to 37 percent, according to The Associated Press.
A list of Republican candidates Trump and Vice President Mike Pence backed in the 2018 cycle’s final big primary night were victorious. The duo spent Tuesday night and Wednesday morning taking a joint victory lap, each firing off a series of tweets congratulating their candidates and looking ahead to general election races across the country that will decide the fate of their policy agenda with the House and Senate both possibly up for grabs.
On Wednesday morning, Trump lauded "Big Election Wins last night" and declared the "Republican Party will MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!" before declaring the party already is moving the country close to his 2020 re-election campaign slogan of "KEEP AMERICA GREAT!"
Big Election Wins last night! The Republican Party will MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! Actually, it is happening faster than anybody thought possible! It is morphing into KEEP AMERICA GREAT!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2018
The president also used a tweet to point out that DeSantis won “easily,” and Gillum, the African-American mayor of Tallahassee, who Trump dubbed DeSantis’ “biggest dream.”
That’s because, in Trump’s view, Gillum is a “a failed Socialist Mayor … who has allowed crime & many other problems to flourish in his city.”
“This is not what Florida wants or needs!” Trump wrote.
Not only did Congressman Ron DeSantis easily win the Republican Primary, but his opponent in November is his biggest dream....a failed Socialist Mayor named Andrew Gillum who has allowed crime & many other problems to flourish in his city. This is not what Florida wants or needs!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2018
His allegations about Tallahassee are ones he often makes about just every city or state with a Democratic mayor or governor — even when crime or employment statistics undermine his claims.
His conservative base is energized by the charges, and Trump appears eager to make the midterms a turnout election, meaning a big conservative turnout in competitive races could limit Democratic gains in the House and perhaps keep the Senate in GOP hands. Senior administration officials who briefed reporters last week said Trump realizes history shows sitting first-term presidents typically lose seats in midterm elections.
During an event in the Sunshine State for DeSantis in late July, the president branded the congressman with a compliment he reserves for a select few — a “tough cookie.”
Presidents typically have avoided getting involved in primaries for state and and congressional races. But not Trump, who is eager to put candidates who share his nationalist and conservative bona fides into elected office at all levels.
DeSantis showed why he is considered a Trumpian candidate, whipping the crowd that day into a frenzy as he dropped a line the president, standing just to his left, followed with two thumbs up, a grin and nodding: “We can fight illegal immigration.”
Watch: McCain vs. Trump: Can the President Give Up the Spotlight?