Unwilling to attack each other this early in the 2018 campaign for Florida governor, the three Democrats running so far chose different opponent Saturday: President Donald Trump.
“The biggest challenge we have facing the United States is without question Donald Trump,” said former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee. “And quite honestly, he’s the biggest challenge facing the world as well.”
“I agree 100 percent with her responses,” Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum said.
They had been asked about the biggest problems confronting the world, the nation and the state. Orlando entrepreneur Chris King offered the first answer, blaming the Republican president and Congress for trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, pulling out of the Paris climate agreement and cracking down on U.S.-Cuba relations.
“Trump’s taking us backwards again,” King said. “There’s a common theme.”
The first forum among the Democratic rivals since all three declared their candidacies offered few areas of disagreement. That was by design: “This is not a debate,” said the moderator, former state Rep. Keith Fitzgerald of Sarasota. “These questions are sort of general.”
Instead, each candidate tried to win over activists involved in Leadership Blue, the Florida Democratic Party’s largest annual fundraiser held at the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood. The forum was put on by the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida, a fact not lost on the candidates, who attempted to cement their progressive bona fides.
Photo credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald staff