Senate races

Florida Senate candidate changes tune on Trump

Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.), facing a competitive GOP Senate primary in Florida, is taking a softer tone toward Donald Trump.

Asked if he would ever vote for Trump if he becomes the nominee, Jolly didn’t rule it out.

{mosads}“Let’s see what the field looks like,” Jolly told reporters days after Trump won Nevada’s caucuses. “I have reservations about every candidate out there.”

Jolly late last year called on Trump to drop out of the president race after the real estate mogul called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, warning a President Trump would threaten religious liberties.

But on Thursday, Jolly’s tone was noticeably different.

“This is taking some time to assess who our nominee might actually be and what Donald Trump actually would look like as president of the United States. We’re not quite there yet,” he said.

Jolly reiterated that he still strongly disagrees with Trump’s proposed Muslim ban. But he acknowledged he may have to settle into the reality of Trump becoming the nominee, given the billionaire’s victory in three out of four contests so far and leads in polls of states in next week’s Super Tuesday contests. 

“The reality is Donald Trump is resonating with our voters. And as a U.S. Senate candidate… I may have to recognize that Donald Trump might be at the top of our ticket.

“So I look at areas where we do agree,” Jolly said, citing Trump’s support for his bills to establish tougher penalties for people found guilty of killing police officers and allow veterans to seek health care from doctors outside of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs system.  

“We will have strong differences. That won’t change,” he added.

Trump is also resonating in Florida, according to polls that show him with more support than Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), one of his rivals for the presidential nomnination. 

Jolly said the decisions of Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) to both stay in the race would likely benefit Trump in his state.
“If all three of them remain on the ballot, I think all the indications show Donald Trump is likely to be victorious in Florida,” he said.

Jolly faces five GOP challengers for the seat being vacated by Rubio.

Real estate developer Carlos Beruff, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, businessman Todd Wilcox and Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) are also vying for the GOP nomination.

On the Democratic side, Florida Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson are battling for their party’s nomination in what’s expected to be a competitive race this fall. 

Democrats are quickly seizing on Jolly’s shift in tone.

“His lack of conviction is alarming, and shows that he’s nothing more than a typical Washington politician who would rather follow polls than lead,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokeswoman Lauren Passalacqua.

Jolly had originally endorsed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush before he dropped out of the race last weekend.


Tags Alan Grayson Donald Trump Marco Rubio Ted Cruz

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