- President Donald Trump said at a rally in Florida that if he did not win the state in November, he would "fire" the state's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
- "You know if we don't win it, I'm blaming the governor," Trump joked. "I'll fire him somehow. I'm going to fire him. I will find a way, anyway."
- Trump has largely praised the electoral process in GOP-run states while alleging that several Democratic governors have tried to tilt the election against him.
- Florida has 29 electoral votes and is a critical part of Trump's reelection calculus.
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President Donald Trump jokingly said on Friday that he would "fire" Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis if he did not secure the crucial battleground state in November against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
At a rally in Ocala, Trump praised the state's first-term GOP governor, calling him a "friend," but putting him on notice that he expects to win the state.
"He's done a great job and he's been my friend," Trump said. "Hey, Ron, are we going to win this state, please? You know if we don't win it, I'm blaming the governor. I'll fire him somehow. I'm going to fire him. I will find a way, anyway."
The friendly banter between the two Republicans was a stark contrast to the harsh rhetoric that the president has employed against several Democratic governors, including New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, accusing them of trying to tilt the election against him.
In September 2019, Trump declared Florida as his primary residence, according to The New York Times. The native New Yorker, who was already spending much of his vacation time at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, made a huge exception for Florida when it came to his grievances over ballots.
In August, Trump tweeted that mail-in voting was "safe and secure, tried and true" in the Sunshine State due to its "great Republican governor," according to Forbes.
In contrast, Biden said at a town hall event in early October that he cautioned governors that Trump could retaliate against them for openly supporting his presidential bid.
"I told some governors, don't endorse me, who wanted to endorse me," Biden said. "Don't endorse me because you'll pay a penalty. You won't get what you need from the federal government in terms of COVID prep."
During the rally, Trump also recalled how DeSantis first approached him about his now-successful gubernatorial campaign early in his administration. Trump went on to endorse DeSantis in the 2018 primary.
"He came to me and said 'Sir, I'd like to run for governor.' I said, 'Well, I could, you know, understand that, but you've got a long way to go.' He said, 'No, I'd like your endorsement, if we have your endorsement.' I said, 'Look Ron, let's think about it.' Anyway, you know he's a great guy, Harvard, Yale, smart. I said, 'Alright, Ron, I'm going to endorse you, who the hell knows what's going to happen.'"
DeSantis, then a congressman, won the primary in a field that included Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, a former congressman who was widely seen as the frontrunner before Trump's endorsement. In the general election, DeSantis narrowly defeated Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, taking office in January 2019.
Biden currently leads Trump in Florida by a slim 1.4% margin in the Real Clear Politics polling average (48.2% to 46.8%). In 2016, Trump won the state by 1.2% (48.6% to 47.4%) against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
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