DeSantis, Putnam Clash During Debate

August 9, 2018

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.

by Lloyd Dunkelberger, The News Service of Florida


6 Responses to “DeSantis, Putnam Clash During Debate”

  1. RD on August 9th, 2018 9:54 pm

    I would say vote for the one who is less of a crook but I doubt the average person could tell the difference.

  2. Diane on August 9th, 2018 3:17 pm

    Thank God for DeSantis. He will make a fantastic governor! Honest, brave, courageous, perfect candidate. We don’t need Big Sugar Putnam or any other RINO. DeSantis will give our wonderful President the support he (and WE) need to restore our FREE REPUBLIC. God bless DeSantis & Trump!

  3. Chelleepea on August 9th, 2018 11:39 am

    As a liberal if I may add my 2cents, I would vote for the guy that isn’t wrapped up in trumpism. I would vote for the guy who is his own man and stand on his own two feet. If you feel you can’t win an election without mentioning trump maybe you’re too weak to run.

  4. Grand Locust on August 9th, 2018 9:55 am

    The Red Tide is going to determine this race……People are scared as nobody is sure what is happening to the people breathing the same. So if you accept millions from lobbyist who represent the industry which is thought partially responsible for the fish kills… are not going to get votes in South Florida.

  5. chillywilly on August 9th, 2018 8:47 am

    Adam Putnam did try to stand up to Rick Scott when he fired FDLE director Gerald Bailey but the rest of the cabinet would not back him up. They where to job scared and afraid of Scott. I believe Putnam is a good man with character and integrity He is endorsed by Florida law enforcement..
    Rick Scott please just go away. He Took the fifth amendment 75 times in a deposition in the largest Medicare Fraud case in history.
    settled several million dollar law suits with our tax dollars for violating Florida Sunshine laws for open government, Google the firing of Gerald Bailey, former FDLE director
    Total disgrace what he did to a man with a impeccable law enforcement career..Keeps all his assets hidden in a blind trust in his wife’s name.
    Changed your automobile insurance, benefiting insurance companies so you only have 14 days after you have a accident. to file a medical claim, who does that benefit. Scott has already spent sixteen million on TV ads. Spent millions of our tax dollars building a sea wall around a golf course in south Florida.. Yet he vetoed most projects in our area. Scott has destroyed the department of health , department of corrections, remember when the tornadoes hit century , Scott was in Pensacola and would not even go to century to check on those folks. He privatized Silver Springs in Ocala Now looks like a dilapidated ghost
    town. I was there. Tried to cut funding for in home care for disabled children and put them in senior nursing homes , thankfully a judge stepped in and stopped it. need I say more. Please Vote.

  6. so dangerous on August 9th, 2018 7:59 am

    DeSantis, is not the man for Florida. We need someone that’s honest. I’ve seen enough of him on FOX SHOWS to know he’s not.
    It’s usually a hard decision trying to figure out who is the most honest between the candidates, not this time.


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