Florida's gubernatorial race is tight.
Moderator Jake Tapper announced the two had only met in person moments before the debate began, making it even more noticeable how DeSantis called Gillum "Andrew" while Gillum called DeSantis by more respectful terms, such as "congressman" or "my opponent".
The race is tight. Gillum has a slight advantage of nearly four points according to Real Clear Politics. His campaign said he had filed for an extension until October, but that deadline was extended until next year due to Hurricane Michael.
"He'll kill everything that's good about Florida", says Talmadge Strickland, a retired firefighter wearing a "Trump 2020" baseball cap at a rally for Mr. Gillum's opponent. Gillum is now the Mayor of Tallahassee. "It also makes no sense to use this sampling when you can buy Florida's voter file and voting history files for $10 and weight to those voter-level characteristics".
"How in the hell am I supposed to know every single statement someone makes", DeSantis responded.
Gillum flinched a bit, not defending the program which is a non-starter in Florida and most states around the country, instead seeking to talk up his plans to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.
"It's time to send Rick Scott packing", Gillum said. She says his race shouldn't be a factor. "So far as I know, I will die black".
Next, DeSantis made sure to cast himself as the "law-and-order" candidate. To a crowd of over three hundred cheering supporters, he said, "Its's great to be in America's friendliest hometown".
Biden said President Trump's actions at home and overseas didn't reflect basic American values of decency.
DeSantis, a former congressman who left office under a shroud of controversy, has routinely resorted to racist rhetoric during this contentious campaign. "And that's why I'm here".
During a stop at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Biden said that America has a chance to reset "the moral compass of this country" and that President Trump's actions at home and overseas didn't reflect basic American values of decency and pluralism.
However, the GOP is also bringing out the big guns, with Vice President Mike Pence in town for DeSantis Thursday afternoon.
Gillum was the target of a supposed Federal Bureau of Investigation sting after an undercover agent gifted him a pair of tickets to the hit Broadway musical Hamilton, which DeSantis tried to flip into a moment to reveal Gillum as untrustworthy because he didn't report the gift to campaign officials. "I feel the wind at our backs".
Whether or not this narrative is accurate-and the debate audience's incredulous laughter at that freaky Israel pivot suggests that it is not-Gillum has still been able to reach center and right-leaning types who might disagree with him on policy by appealing to their core values instead.
With the debate covering key issues, such as taxes, gun control, and race, many people declared Gillum the victor.
In his attacks, DeSantis is getting help from President Trump. "His opponent runs one of the worst & most corrupt cities in U.S.!"
Gillum insisted he's always paid his own way as he came up as a young political star, but never directly answered DeSantis.
"Andrew can't do that", DeSantis said. "He's not the guy to keep Florida families safe".
Gillum trashed Trump again and again. He's presided over a crime-ridden city.