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Miami Republicans Artiles and Bileca diverge in supporting Donald Trump

@ByKristenMClark & @MaryEllenKlas

Whether to continue supporting Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is a decision that continues to divide Republicans in Miami-Dade County.

Miami Republicans state Rep. Michael Bileca and state Senate candidate and current state Rep. Frank Artiles gave nearly identical comments in separate interviews with the Miami Herald's editorial board on Monday in admonishing Americans' top choices for president this year.

"I can tell you right now that I think that both candidates are the most horrible candidates that have ever been put up for the president of the United States," Artiles said.

"I think we have the two worst candidates that either party has ever put up in the history of presidential elections," Bileca said.

But there's a big difference between the two legislators beyond that: Artiles supports Trump for president, while Bileca doesn't.

Artiles said that when he talks to independent voters, he tells them: "Look, you have a choice to make between who’s the best and the worst, because I quite honestly believe these are the worst."

But he added, "I will be voting for Donald Trump."

Bileca -- who's seeking re-election in District 115 against Democrat Jeffrey Doc Solomon -- left it a bit unclear about who he is voting for but he will not endorse Trump, he said.

He said that Hillary Clinton has shown that she and the people she surrounds herself with have used the mechanics of her office in power "to enrich themselves" and Donald Trump has taken his campaign "to a level of coarseness, a level of vulgarity and a level of statements that are outrageous."

"It's a pattern. It's a very low level. We are all losing support and I have not endorsed him," Bileca said.

Artiles called Trump's lewd comments about women that were caught on tape during a 2005 Access Hollywood appearance "deplorable."

"I’m not here to defend his comments because I think they’re terrible comments," Artiles said, "but it was made in private, he was mic’d up. The reality is I’ve heard worst comments coming from enlisted officers as well as women, in reference to the comments that were made."

Artiles is a former Marine. He's running in a bitter and heated contest against incumbent state Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Cutler Bay, for the newly redrawn District 40 state Senate seat. The seat is heavily Hispanic and leans Democratic. It represents parts of central Miami-Dade County.