In friendlier days.EXPAND
In friendlier days.
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos / Wikimedia Commons

Republicans Are on the Run as Trump and Obama Face Off in Florida Six Days Before Election

With the election less than a week away, Florida for the next few days becomes the epicenter of campaigning by presidents past and present.

Donald Trump hits the Hertz Arena in Fort Myers tonight at 7 p.m. A large crowd is expected, and cops are warning people to stay away from the area unless completely necessary. “Expect delays, congestion. Practice patience,”  Lt. Greg Bueno, the Florida Highway Patrol’s area spokesman, told the News-Press. The newspaper also predicts Trump will say there was no collusion, the media is full of crap, and the economy is booming,

Trump is less likely to note the 13 Russian citizens and three Russian entities indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, or the 2000-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average in the last month. (That last prediction is mine.)

Trump will appear with gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis, who has trailed candidate Andrew Gillum in the last six polls taken in Florida. 

The president returns to the state, to Pensacola, on Saturday. Last time he was there, in December 2017, Trump touted conservative Alabaman Roy Moore, who eventually lost his bid for the U.S. Senate after allegations he acted improperly with young girls. Though this is the most conservative part of the state, sometimes called the Redneck Riviera, damage wrought by a storm named Michael that hit near here might dampen enthusiasm.

Obama meanwhile hits Wynwood Friday. This president had mostly avoided politics since leaving office two years ago. When his wife visited the University of Miami a couple of months ago, she studiously avoided taking sides. 

But Obama, who has long been a target for Trump, has been far more aggressive lately. And his planned venue  — the Ice Palace on NW 14th Street, between Wynwood and downtown — is in the heart of Miami's most Democratic territory. The place holds 10,000 people.

He will be joined by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who is running a tight race with Gov. Rick Scott for one of the state's two Senate seats. The last three polls in that face-off favor Nelson, though it is a bit closer than the Gillum-DeSantis governor's contest. Even if Nelson wins, the Democrats will likely have a hard time winning back the U.S. Senate.

Republicans hold a slight lead in early voting, according to a tweet by University of Florida professor Daniel Smith. But it is less than in the last midterm election. "On the VBM (vote-by-mail) side of the ledger, Democrats and NPAs (no party affiliation) are far exceeding their returned VBM ballots relative to 2014; Republicans not so much. As a result, Ds (Democrats) have narrowed the gap,” Smith tweeted.

Moreover, Obama has been on the attack lately. In Milwaukee just a few days ago, he whacked Trump and the Republican Party for "blatantly, repeatedly, baldly, shamelessly lying." He described the Republican approach this way:  "It's like a con where a door-to-door salesman tries to sell you a security system, while his buddy sneaks in the back and takes all your stuff." 

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