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2018 Election Road Trip
The Tampa Bay Times issued a report on Tuesday detailing texts that show the Democratic candidate for Florida governor, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, received a free ticket to the Broadway show "Hamilton" as a gift from an FBI agent posing as a developer. Gillum vehemently denies the report.
The allegations could spark problems for Gillum, who is one of the breakout stars of this election season. He's been leading Republican candidate, former congressman and Iraq War veteran Ron DeSantis, by as many as 12 points in the polls. The 39-year-old is the first African-American Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Florida's history — and is considered by many to be the state's most progressive gubernatorial candidate ever.
Gillum supports hiking the state's corporate tax rate to fund education, raising the minimum wage and a single-payer health care system. DeSantis is endorsed by President Trump, and he says Gillum's health care plans will destroy Medicare for seniors.
Here & Now's Robin Young talks with Gillum (@AndrewGillum) about his campaign. Here & Now reached out to DeSantis for an interview, but he declined.
- Follow along with our 2018 midterm elections coverage
On DeSantis' claim that Gillum's health care policy will destroy Medicare
"I said I've endorsed Medicare for all at the federal level, and I encourage them to move diligently to get that done. Florida could not go there alone. We would need a federal solution here, and at the very least we would need a consort of states coming together to negotiate prescription drugs and others on behalf of its citizens. And so what is within my power, however, is to expand Medicaid, which is what we've committed to doing for over 800,000 of the most medically needy people in my state.
"Right now, Republicans have refused to expand Medicaid for that group, costing this state $6 billion that we could bring down from the federal government that right now is being given away to other states, while we've got one in five people in my state going to emergency rooms to access health care. That's unacceptable. I mean Mr. DeSantis said that to a cancer patient when asked how she was supposed to get access to health care, he said, 'You could always go to an emergency room.' That response in my opinion is disqualifying for anyone running for governor of the state of Florida."
"I am sick to my stomach at the national, at the state, at the local level people normalizing the behavior that comes out of Washington, D.C. I refuse to do it."Andrew Gillum
On the high crime rate in Tallahassee
"Tallahassee is the eighth-largest city in the state of Florida, and we're 28th in crime. My city is experiencing a five-year low in our crime rate, and we're on a trajectory to be at a 20-year low. Mr. DeSantis described our community as one where people are sheltering themselves in homes and avoiding the streets and avoiding our parks. He clearly has never spent any time in Tallahassee.
"We were in a political season, and my opponent is actually running ads that are causing people to actually buy that hype. My community over the last several days responded pretty resoundingly. People have now taken to their social media to declare their pride, how safe they actually feel. Regular everyday working people in my state recognize that communities are going to have crime. They know that. The question is what do communities do about it? And what we’ve done about it in my city is we've hired 50 new law enforcement officers over the past four years. We've brought down our crime rate. We've instituted restorative justice practices, created re-entry programs, so that folks who are returning citizens to our community get the opportunity to re-enter society and have dignity around their work. This categorization of a high, lawless, you know, this is 'Trumpian' in politics. It is not based in reality."
On his harsh criticism of President Trump
"I am sick to my stomach at the national, at the state, at the local level people normalizing the behavior that comes out of Washington, D.C. I refuse to do it. I'm raising three children. I'm teaching my kids what it means, the Golden Rule, to treat people like you want to be treated. Our president goes around making fun of handicapped individuals, referring to women in all kinds of vile ways, objectifying women. And I have a daughter, and so I'm prepared to take my chances calling the president out for what I believe is completely inappropriate behavior.
"And Mr. DeSantis, who has run his campaign in complete 'Trumpian' ... fashion, also has to be called out for that kind of derisive and divisive politics. He is sucking up to the president. He does consider himself an apprentice to Donald Trump. If we're ever going to restore decency and common sense to our body politic, more people have to join me in decrying this kind of divisive, racist, xenophobic and sexist language out. I'm never going to make apologies for trying to create a kind of society and a kind of community where my kids will be proud to grow up in."
On if he will work with Trump if elected
"Unfortunately for Mr. DeSantis, this is not Russia. We don't bow down to the president. We work with. Take, for instance, under Gov. Rick Scott, he disagreed vehemently with President Obama. President Obama, in spite of that vehement disagreement, tried to send the state of Florida $2.8 billion to build high-speed rail because he's president of the United States and part of the responsibility of being president is to make sure that you see to the needs of the third-largest state in all of America. Gov. Rick Scott said, 'No thank you. We don't believe in Obama's stimulus money.'
"As much as I disagree with the conduct and the qualifications of this president, and if he tries to send Florida $2.8 billion, I'm going to take that money, and I'm going to put that money to work for everyday Floridians. We have an opportunity under the Obama administration and even now to expand Medicaid in this state, something that would have been in the best interest of the people of the state of Florida. And our Republican governor — because he had a philosophical difference with the president — decided that he would not expand Medicaid in this state, leaving $6 billion on the table and over 800,000 people in my state uninsured. When I'm governor, my differences aside from the president, he's going to find a willing partner in me who's willing to help him on infrastructure, help on transportation. Rick Scott and I, who again don't agree on a lot politically, during this last storm, Hurricane Michael, we spoke every day on the phone."
"I take great issue with the suggestion that people like me somehow take free things that we didn't pay for and that we didn't earn."Andrew Gillum
On DeSantis positioning himself as a Teddy Roosevelt conservationist
"My opponent can say anything he wants to in an election year, but I have to measure him by his six years in Congress, someone who voted to undermine the Environmental Protection Agency, someone who voted against the Clean Water Act 33 times. As the mayor of Florida's capital city, we broke ground on a 120-acre solar farm tripling the amount of solar energy that we produce, and the city of Tallahassee — where we sit above the Floridan aquifer and where we noticed through our spray field operations that we were contributing to higher nitrate levels in Wakulla Springs — we took the necessary steps to begin treating that water at the near tertiary level, almost potable level, to reduce the number of nitrates going into our groundwater. When we get elected governor, we're going to have a governor who believes in science. We're going to assemble the best scientists that we possibly can, the best marine biologists, put some teeth back into our Department of Environmental Protection where we have deregulated across that agency allowing the biggest polluters to write their own rules.
"We recognize that we are highly susceptible to the impacts of global warming and sea-level rise. And so we've got to start building a more resilient state. And yes, that in some cases will mean that there are parts of our state where we're not going to be able to continue [to] allow growth to take place. Already, insurance and actuarial studies are showing some of these areas that are going to be underwater."
On his denial of reports that he accepted free "Hamilton" tickets
"I absolutely stand by that. Now I realize that my opponents have tried to seize on this in some way to make me look less than aboveboard. But as I have said repeatedly, one I am [an] adult working man who is married to my wife who is a working woman, and we don't take free trips from anybody. We pay our own way. I am not the subject of an FBI investigation, and there is no evidence to suggest that that is true, neither is my city. But what this fits into is a narrative that my opponents would love to suggest that somehow people like me don't pay our fair share, and I take great issue with the suggestion that people like me somehow take free things that we didn't pay for and that we didn't earn."
This segment aired on October 24, 2018.
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