Live coverage: Gillum clashes with DeSantis in Florida debate

Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisScott defeats Nelson in Florida Senate race after bitter recount fight Gillum officially concedes in Florida gubernatorial race Trump: Gillum will be 'force to reckon with' MORE will meet Sunday night for their first debate in Florida's closely watched gubernatorial race. 
 
Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, and former Rep. DeSantis are locked in a statistical dead heat, according to most polls. The debate, to be broadcast on CNN, will offer the candidates a chance to appeal directly to voters across one of the country's largest and most volatile swing states. 
 
Follow along with The Hill's live coverage of the debate, due to start at 8 p.m.
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That's a wrap
 
9:04 p.m.
 
DeSantis and Gillum set aside the bitterness that defined the rest of their debate, delivering closing statements that highlighted their own back stories.
 
DeSantis mentioned his service in the Navy and cast himself as the candidate who would grow Florida's economy and stand by law enforcement.

"I’m the guy who can lead Florida and protect our future," he said. "We gotta keep our economy going."
 
Gillum, who has frequently talked about his working-class upbringing, closed with an anecdote about how his grandmother would send him off to school as a child by drawing a cross on his forehead with olive oil. 
 
He also got one last dig in at Trump. 

"In Trump’s America, we’ve been led to believe that we gotta step on our neighbor’s shoulder and their backs and their face," Gillum said.
 
"I’m asking you all for the only thing in life that my mother taught me to ask for and that’s a chance," he added. "Let’s bring it home."
 
Gillum accuses DeSantis of being in the pocket of the NRA
 
8:52pm
 
Gillum went after DeSantis over his endorsement by the NRA.

“We deserve a governor who is going to stand up to one of the largest and most powerful lobbies who stand in the way of any common-sense gun reform,” he said.

 “What Florida voters understand is that communities will experience crime … The question is what are we going to do about it, and what I’m going to do is take on the NRA and hold them responsible for the rampant crime in our communities,” Gillum added.

DeSantis vowed to take action on gun violence, citing support for protecting school defenses as evidence he would take a stance on preventing school shootings. 

“We are going to fix it in terms of school security … I think we need to do more,” he said.

DeSantis added that authorities should also work to “identify those people who should not have access to weapons and should not be on the street at all.”

DeSantis dodges question on whether Trump is a good role model
 
8:50 p.m.
 
Asked if he thinks Trump is a good role model, DeSantis demurred, instead touting the president's decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

"Donald Trump promised it and he followed through with it," DeSantis said.
 
Gillum mocked DeSantis for dodging the question before saying Trump was a bully. DeSantis, the mayor said, is Trump's "acolyte."

"Donald Trump is weak, and he performs as all weak people do. They become bullies," Gillum said.
 
Gillum and DeSantis offer divergent views on immigration
 
8:43 p.m.
 
Gillum and DeSantis sparred over immigration, with the Tallahassee mayor calling for comprehensive immigration reform, and the former Republican representative calling to work with the Trump administration on immigration enforcement.
 
Gillum said that undocumented immigrants living in Florida should not be automatically granted citizenship. But he blasted the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy that led to thousands of immigrant families being separated at the U.S. southern border.

"Instead of dealing with drug traffickers, with sex traffickers, they’ve turned their attention to babies, caging them and ripping them away from their mothers," Gillum said. He insisted that he did not want to make Florida a "show me your papers" state. 
 
DeSantis hit Gillum over his calls to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in its current form. But he said that he was more concerned with deporting undocumented immigrants who commit crimes rather than cracking down on undocumented immigrants en masse. 
 
He also insisted he would cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.

"If someone’s here illegally...you got to honor the detainer request," he said.
 
Gillum goes on attack over racism claims in the race

8:40 p.m.

DeSantis was asked by the moderator about a donor to his campaign who reportedly used the n-word and about his comments a day after his primary that Florida voters should not "monkey this up" by electing Gillum.

"Look at my record," DeSantis said, citing his military record and his work as a prosecutor working across races.

“Floridians can know that I'll be a governor for all Floridians," he said.

Gillum came back accusing DeSantis of once being part of a Facebook group that had racist postings. DeSantis strongly denied he did this knowingly.

"On Facebook, you can get added to groups without any consent," he said, while noting he removed himself after finding out about it. 
 
Gillum also accused DeSantis of using his "monkey this up" comment" to stir racial fears and seeking to make race an issue in the campaign.
 
"I've been black all my life. As far as I know I will die black," Gillum said.
 
DeSantis, Gillum spar over crime in Tallahassee

8:33pm

Gillum defended his record as mayor of Tallahassee against DeSantis’s claims that the city is “crime ridden” with residents fearful of violent crime.

“Under Mayor Gillum’s leadership, Tallahassee is the most crime-ridden city in the entire state of Florida. Last year, Tallahassee had the highest rate of murders in the history of the city. People don’t feel safe in Tallahassee … So he has failed the people of Tallahassee with that record,” DeSantis said.

Gillum responded that violent crime is in fact on the decline and suggested DeSantis was being dishonest.

“I preside right now over a city that is experiencing a five-year low in our crime rate … We are the eighth largest city in Florida and 28th in crime. Those are the facts. Not faux facts, real facts,” he said.

 “You’re presiding over a very crime-ridden city, and it is dangerous for people,” DeSantis responded.

Gillum addresses questions about FBI probe 
 
8:29 p.m.
 
Gillum asserted that neither he nor the Tallahassee city government are under FBI investigation, defending himself against questions about his relationship with a lobbyist who is currently at the center of a federal probe.

"We all have friends that sometimes let us down," Gillum said. "And the truth is ... I am not under FBI investigation and neither is my city government. And what we have done is we welcome [the FBI] in."
 
Gillum contrasted his approach in dealing with the FBI with that of DeSantis, who has lambasted the special counsel investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

"He has gone out of his way before he quit his job in Congress to protect Donald Trump," Gillum said.

DeSantis recalled his time as a Navy prosecutor, saying that he worked "hand-in-hand with [the FBI] to bring people to justice."
 
Candidates clash on taxes
 
8:26 p.m.
 
The candidates got into a heated exchange over taxes after DeSantis accused Gillum of wanting to raise taxes "by 40 percent," and saying Gillum raised taxes consistently as mayor of Tallahassee, including property taxes.

Gillum strongly defended himself, saying he has no plans or proposals to raise the income tax while also saying under his plan "90 percent of businesses" would still not pay any taxes.

"The congressman is not well studied on my record," he said, while adding "he's never led a city. He spent six years in Congress" and "never passed a single piece of legislation."

But Gillum proposed to tax a small portion of the "wealthiest corporations" in order to use the funds to invest in public education and help "our young people."

DeSantis again accused Gillum of being a tax-raising Democrat "with a history of supporting higher taxes."

Gillum calls for $15 minimum wage; DeSantis says it will kill jobs
 
8:23 p.m.

Gillum defended his call to implement a $15-per-hour minimum wage, while DeSantis argued that raising wages would ultimately drive businesses out of the state, force them to hire fewer works and cut the number of hours that people work.
 
DeSantis invoked his own experience working for minimum wage in his youth, saying he wouldn't have made any money if a $15 minimum wage was in place at the time.

"I can tell you if Andrew’s policies were in place, I wouldn’t have made $15, I would have made zero," he said.

But Gillum said that raising the minimum wage would allow working-class Floridians to pay their rent and buy groceries, while helping them climb the economic ladder. 

"The reason why that is important is that when working people get a wage, they go out and they buy groceries, they pay their rent," Gillum said.
 
Gillum calls to expand Medicaid as DeSantis ties him to 'Medicare for all' proposal
 
8:17 p.m.
 
Gillum is calling for Florida to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, saying that doing so would allow the state to extend access to health care to 800,000 Floridians in need. 
 
He also said that doing so would help small businesses that currently have trouble accessing health coverage for their employees. 

"It’s also good for folks like me and for small businesses and folks who right now can’t afford to get access to health care," Gillum said.
 
Meanwhile, DeSantis homed in on Gillum's support for the "Medicare for all" system espoused by progressives and a growing number of more mainstream Democrats. He also said he would act to protect people with pre-existing medical conditions. 
 
Gillum, DeSantis spar over environmental policy
 
8:09 p.m.
 
DeSantis vowed to protect Florida's environment, but described a cautious approach to regulation, while slamming Gillum's proposals as a "California-style" policy.

"What I don’t want to do is do things like Andrew wants to do, which is a California-style energy policy," DeSantis said. 
 
Gillum said he wanted Florida to be a leader in clean-energy development, contrasting himself with DeSantis and other Republican governors by saying he "believes in science."
 
"When people elect me as governor, they’re going to have a governor who believes in science," he said. 
 
The environment is a key topic in Florida's elections this year. The state's southern peninsula has been hit by a toxic algae crisis. More recently, Hurricane Michael pushed a rash of red tide up the coasts. 
 
DeSantis comes out swinging
 
8:04 p.m.
 
DeSantis came out swinging from his opening remarks. After introducing himself, he said he wanted to "protect [the state's] economic momentum," while accusing Gillum of wanting to raise taxes that "will cost a lot of jobs."

He also accused Gillum of being mayor of a Tallahassee, while noting the city has been embroiled in a corruption investigation. The FBI is currently investigating corruption in the city regarding the work of lobbyists but Gillum is not part of the probe.

Several Tallahassee officials have been hit with subpoenas, including one demanding information on a business deal between the city and a lobbyist who was a former ally of Gillum.

All ready for the debate
 
7:57 p.m.
 
We are all set for the debate, which is due to start any minute now.
 
The debate should be an interesting study of contrasts.
 
Gillum is pushing a progressive message, replete with proposals to raise the state's minimum wage and expand Medicaid. He's received endorsements from political heavyweights, including former President Obama and Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersDems wonder if Sherrod Brown could be their magic man My fellow Democrats should watch their language: Economic equality is not a rational societal goal As Democrats gear up to challenge Trump in 2020, the key political divide will be metropolitan versus rural MORE (I-Vt.). If he wins next month, Gillum will become Florida's first African-American governor.
 
But DeSantis has the valuable endorsement of President TrumpDonald John TrumpBroward County official Brenda Snipes submits resignation after criticism Retired lieutenant general tears into Trump over attacks against Navy SEAL: 'Disgusting' Senate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks MORE, who won Florida by a single point in 2016. Much of his campaign has hinged on his support for the president, making his race against Gillum, at least in part, a test of Trump's influence in the Sunshine State. He's repeatedly accused his opponent of spouting a socialist agenda.