Speaking with the tone of a rabbi giving a sermon, Andrew Gillum stood at the lectern of a Century Village Jewish Center Sunday in Pembroke Pines and decreed that, despite what’s been said about him on the campaign trail, his relationship with the Jewish community needs no repairing.
“There are some who would like to misconstrue what my relationship is with the Jewish community,” Gillum, the Democratic nominee for Florida governor, stated in front of a standing-room only crowd at Century Pines Jewish Center. “But they don’t know the stories I can tell about that relationship.”
Flanked by one of the most prominent Jewish members of Congress in Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Gillum — cast for weeks by Republicans as anti-Israel — said his bonds with Florida’s substantial Jewish community need no defending.
He has been attacked by Republicans and GOP nominee Ron DeSantis as “anti-Israel,” and criticized for surrounding himself with what opponents describe as anti-Semitic forces. DeSantis has also blasted Gillum’s running mate, Chris King, for a quote he gave 20 years ago following a failed bid for student government at Harvard University in which he criticized the Jewish members of the student newspaper’s editorial staff. King apologized Sunday in a taped segment with WPLG Channel 10 and stressed no ill intent.
So, before heading back to the Panhandle to prepare for an oncoming storm, the mayor of Tallahassee walked into one of the most dependable voting precincts in South Florida wearing a yarmulke and touted his ties to Florida’s Jewish community. In the company of the Jewish former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gillum delivered a short speech in which he spoke about his three trips to Israel during his time in office in Tallahassee and his family’s history.
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