By Lloyd Dunkelberger, The News Service of Florida
JACKSONVILLE — In their second and final debate for the Republican nomination for governor, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis clashed Wednesday over President Donald Trump, Florida’s water crisis and campaign contributions.
Putnam, a two-term Cabinet member and former member of Congress, accused DeSantis, a three-term member of Congress, of running a campaign light on Florida issues.
Putnam mocked DeSantis — who has appeared frequently on Fox News — for relying heavily on his endorsement from Trump, likening the congressman’s campaign to the Seinfeld comedy show.
“The campaign is being run out of studio. They have a smattering of celebrity guest appearances. And at the end of the day, it’s all about nothing. But unlike Seinfeld, it’s not funny,” Putnam said. “Floridians deserved better than a candidate who makes it all about himself and not about the future of Florida.”
But DeSantis struck back at Putnam, noting he has spent his entire adulthood in a political office and had accused Trump of being “vile” and “obscene” for sexual comments that were reported during the 2016 presidential campaign. He also noted Putnam did not campaign for Trump.
“No one knew where he was during the campaign. Now he acts like he is this big supporter?” DeSantis said. “This is inauthentic. This is a career politician trying to tell you what you want to see, not coming from the heart. He’s already proven he will say and do anything in terms of millions of dollars in fake ads to get elected. It’s not working. But that’s what he’s willing to do.”
Putnam shot back that DeSantis has run for three offices — an abandoned U.S. Senate bid, a congressional election and governor — since 2015.
“He’s run for three offices in three years. That’s a career politician with ADD,” Putnam said.
Some of the toughest exchanges were related to the water crisis that has resulted in the release of toxic algae impacting coastal communities in southwest and southeastern Florida. Many residents blame the bloom on the release of polluted water from Lake Okeechobee.
Putnam defended his response to the crisis, saying he is committed to protecting the state’s water resources, calling it the “golden goose.”
He questioned DeSantis’ knowledge of the problem.
“I think that you can put everything my opponent knows about water on your sticky note and still have room left over for your grocery list,” Putnam said.
And Putnam said Florida has taken the lead on trying to restore the vast South Florida water system, which includes Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades, while support from Washington has lagged.
But DeSantis charged that Putnam’s response was shaped by his support from U.S. Sugar, which DeSantis said had pumped millions of dollars of campaign contributions into Putnam’s bid, using some of the money to finance advertising that DeSantis said distorted his congressional record.
“Adam is basically the errand boy for U.S. Sugar,” DeSantis said. “He will not do anything to offend U.S. Sugar, which is his main supporter.”
Putnam said more than 90 percent of his contributions have come from “real Floridians,” while DeSantis’ campaign has drawn support from casino owners and “pornographers on the West Coast.” The latter reference is to a $213,000 donation from Ahmad Khawaja, whose company helps collect payments for various groups, including porn websites.
DeSantis and Putnam also clashed over the congressman’s support for a “fair tax,” which would replace all federal taxes with a national sales tax.
DeSantis accused Putnam of “lying,” since his campaign is running ads accusing the Republican congressman of supporting a major tax increase on Floridians. DeSantis said the fair-tax proposal has strong support from conservatives since it would replace all other federal taxes, including the income tax. He noted the state Senate passed a memorial in support of the proposal in 2014.
Putnam defended his criticism, noting the fair-tax plan would impose a 23 percent sales tax on purchases such as prescription drugs and housing. He said the plan “may sound good in a Harvard economics classroom,” a reference to DeSantis’ law degree, but it would hurt Florida families.
DeSantis said “lefties at Harvard would hate” the fair tax since it would eliminate the federal tax code.
The two Republican candidates, in contrast to their Democratic rivals, were in agreement in opposing the expansion of Medicaid in Florida under the federal Affordable Care Act. They were also in agreement on recent state laws that have expanded the use of charter schools and other school “choice” programs.
The debate was hosted by the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute and WJXT Channel 4.
Republican voters will decide between DeSantis and Putnam in the Aug. 28 primary. The winner will face the Democratic nominee in the Nov. 6 general election. Gov. Rick Scott, who is running for a U.S. Senate seat, is leaving office because of term limits.
Please Chief. Keep commenting. I get happier and happier with each word of your TDS.
6 more years my friend. 6 more glorious years.
Yes! Trump got elected because folks are disgusted with the status quo in DC. The opposite of pro is con so the opposite of progress is congress. I just am truly afraid people will look back at this time as Trump being our King George… I feel the least I should do is voice my concern
Agreed, Chief. I don’t want ANY president to have such power that our other government branches can’t limit it. That includes Trump, obama, Hillary (if she got elected, Lord no!) or any future president. The Founding Fathers placed clear methods of limiting a president within the Constitution, and I’m well aware that military members swear an oath to that document and to no president. My personal opinion is that obama came as close to King more than any before or after him – we are still suffering his unlawful end-runs around the Constitution now.
What I see is that Trump has thus far done good things for America: our economic boom, he’s rebuilding the military (after 8 years of obama deliberately dismantling it), and he wants to build the wall and re-establish the LEGAL way that immigrants (as opposed to illegals, who use unlawful methods to enter America) become citizens. He’s not perfect, he makes mistakes, but I judge Pres. Trump by his deeds, far more than his sometimes poorly-worded statements and tweets. I find him a badly-needed reformer to “Washington as usual”.
Again, thanks for your service, and having reservations and concerns (especially about officials in government) is generally a wise trait.
A fair point, Chief. I agree it was one of Trump’s poorly-stated mistakes. He’s far from perfect, I agree – but I think the media and the Never-Trumpers in the Republican Party (you, know: the RINOS who are upset that Trump’s kicking over their Washington game table) all blew that incident way out of proportion. My take on that incident (along with millions of other Trump voters) is that Trump chose poor words, that’s not what he meant, and yes, I enjoyed watching the media’s heads explode over it. Trump did admit his mistake clarify what he said, but Trump-haters would have none of that.
One other point about that incident that’s purposely omitted by the media and Never-Trumpers: Consider the American “intelligence” that Trump is referring to: Brennan (former head of CIA), who is a Muslim and actually voted for the Communist Party. Clapper, who was eagerly complicit in the corrupt investigation into Trump and is now an eager Trump-hating “commentator” on CNN. Comey, who is guilty of perjury and passing classified documents (he calls them “personal memos”) to his professor-friend to leak to the press. Strozck and Page, who both were rabid Trump haters and used their FBI positions to try and frame Trump with a crime he never committed – all this is proven and documented.
Are THOSE the precious, virtue-filled members of the “intelligence agencies” you’re referring to? They’re thoroughly corrupt puppets of obama’s administration, and frankly, I don’t blame Trump a bit for picking Putin over them, they’re corrupt traitors to their federal positions and country, as were (and still are) most all of obama’s high-level administration appointees.
What of the “Republican“ party? The one that can only cower in front of the media, makes itself rich off Washington lobbyists’ payola and places wealthy donors over the American people every day? The ones working even now for amnesty for illegals so their donors can have cheap labor? The Jeff Flakes, Jeb Bushes, and Never-Trumpers who American voters soundly rejected in favor of Trump? I quit giving money to that RNC years ago, since they did absolutely nothing in Washington but cower, blather, get rich and back do-nothing candidates. Watch the headlines: Trump-backed candidates have won their recent primaries and elections. If they win seats in Congress, Trump-backers will soon render Never-Trumpers irrelevant. Good! – more Freedom Caucus and less “Republican” party is a good thing.
It’s not about collusion. It is about being on the world stage and standing next to the Russian KGB agent and implying the US Intelligence Agencies may not know what they are talking about. What it boils down to the Republicans who align with what the party represented by Lincoln, TR, Eisenhower, Regan need to stand-up and say it has become abundantly clear that the guy residing in the white house lacks the ethical, moral and spiritual traits, has narcistic behaviors which are too divisive, is a blatant liar and is exhibiting the signs of the onset of dementia and is thus, unfit to serve the Republican party and this nation. Republicans need to take over the Republican Party. Any Republican political leader who continues to support this guy is complicit. Don’t let a vocal minority of Americans control this party. There is a silent majority of Republicans who know this guy is not the type of leader this country deserves. Rise-up Republicans and seize back our party!
Chief, well over a year and millions of taxpayers dollars later, Mueller has absolutely nothing to show for his meandering, futile investigation into “Trump-Russia collusion”. If you’ve got solid, irrefutable evidence, let’s see it. I’m waiting. Either put up the evidence or put up and go away ( but not before Judge Ellis nails Mueller and his team to the wall as trophies for his courtroom).
Meanwhile over here where the media and Mueller never so much as glance, we have Hillary’s hiring of Steele, who worked with Russian contacts to produce a totally made-up “dossier” on Trump – which was then falsely presented to the FISA court on FOUR occasions to obtain wiretaps and open a corrupt investigation by a corrupt top-level FBI. This is all proven and documented. Hoping for jail time for all involved.
Next, we have Hillary’s own private bathroom server in a Denver bathroom, overflowing with her secret emails (why?) and classified government information.
Computer experts have concluded with “100% certainty” that more than one foreign country hacked Hillary’s server. This is all proven and documented.
Next, we have Uranium One, in which Hillary approved the sale of 20% of America’s Uranium to (you guessed it) Russia. Mueller, as head of FBI, did not even bat an eye on this sale, neither did Brennan or Clapper or obama. Bill Clinton was paid exorbitant fees for “speeches” to (you guessed it) Russian officials just before this sale was approved. Hoping for jail time and Treason charges for all those involved.
Meanwhile, you keep going on about “Trump-Russia!” if it makes you feel better. Kind of like rearranging your living room furniture while your house is on fire, but I guess some people just focus on one thing and that’s it for them.
Love it Chief. Keep it coming. Please, more and more. MAGA.
Mike, Folks like myself and a personal friend of mine, Master Sergeant Gary Gordon, have not been afraid to put country ahead of political party. Keep sipping your look-aid….
My vote is with DeSantis, who is a member of the House Freedom Caucus and a Trump supporter since the 2016 election. I feel that Putnam is a political climber with heavy RINO leanings.
Mr. Chief – While I respect your military service and offer my heartfelt gratitude to you and all who served for America, I strongly disagree with your characterization of Pres. Trump. Since the Vietnam era (I was eligible for the draft but they started winding down the war before I was called), all of us have gone through many changes of maturity and values – Pres. Trump is no different. Say what you will of the man, but his heart is 100% for America. He didn’t need to go through any of the hell he’s undeservedly caught since he ran for president – he could have just sat back, armed both sides with hefty donations, and enjoyed a fat and happy life. But he didn’t, and he’s done more for America in one year than any president in modern history, including Reagan. And he’s done all this while 90% of Washington and the media are fighting him and slandering him and his family. So sir, you are dead wrong about Pres. Trump. As far as I’m concerned, it’s Trump 2020 all the way, already got my bumper sticker.
One other note: Anyone who walks around spouting the “Trump-Russia!” mantra is either intentionally ignorant or in deliberate denial of reality. There is inarguably no evidence to support Trump collusion with Russia. If there was any actual evidence, it would have been screamed out by the media 24-7 long ago.
However, there is inarguably a mountain of evidence (all of it documented and proven) that Hillary and the DNC were in deep collusion with Russia (fake dossier, Uranium 1). And Mueller and the media deliberately ignore the Hillary collusion as if it didn’t exist.
I couldn’t have said it any better, Mike. Excellent post.
Chief: PLEASE buy a copy of this book, by Tallahassee’s own Peter Schweizer, and educate yourself:
Love me some good Trump Derangement Syndrome. You fuel me. You give me energy. Thank you! MAGA.
I’m a life-long Republican and a vet who experienced combat. I would never vote for either of these two self-serving political prostitutes. They support a so-called political leader who put Russia ahead of country. While over 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam, the Russians, who by the late 60’s were providing North Vietnamese more than three-quarters of their military and technical equpment and donated equivalent of $2 million a day, had less than 25 casualties. Meanwhile, the “joke” currently residing in our White House during the Nam years was dealing with the stress of trying to remember which foot had bone spurs.