Gillum says trash-talking Trump lacks ‘courage’ to tag him in 'thief' tweet

Gillum says trash-talking Trump lacks ‘courage’ to tag him in 'thief' tweet
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Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum (D) on Monday called President TrumpDonald John TrumpNational Archives says it altered Trump signs, other messages in Women's March photo Dems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process Democratic lawmaker dismisses GOP lawsuit threat: 'Take your letter and shove it' MORE "weak" for labeling him a "thief" without directly mentioning him in a tweet hours earlier.

"On Twitter there is a choice between having the courage to @ the person you are trash talking, or not. @realDonaldTrump is howling because he's weak. Florida, go vote today," Gillum tweeted.

The Tallahassee mayor, who has responded similarly to other Trump attacks, hit back a short time after the president urged his followers to support Republican candidate Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisFlorida Supreme Court rules convicted felons must pay fines, fees before voting Florida moves to purchase land to protect Everglades from oil drilling Top Latino group: Trump is about to hold a 'fake Christian campaign rally' MORE in a tweet that called Gillum a thief.

"In Florida there is a choice between a Harvard/Yale educated man named @RonDeSantisFL who has been a great Congressman and will be a great Governor — and a Dem who is a thief and who is Mayor of poorly run Tallahassee, said to be one of the most corrupt cities in the Country!" Trump tweeted.

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Gillum has not been convicted of any crime, but he is caught up in a corruption investigation related to his administration, and has come under scrutiny after records showed he accepted a ticket to the musical "Hamilton" from an undercover FBI agent who he believed was a local developer.

Trump's unfounded assertion that Gillum is a "thief" was the latest remark in an election in which race has played a prominent role. 

DeSantis sparked controversy just a day after he and Gillum won their respective primaries when he urged voters not to "monkey this up" by voting for Gillum, who would be the state's first African-American governor, and his policies in the November election.

Critics suggested the remarks had racial undertones or were outright racist, but DeSantis denied that was the case.

Gillum has also been the subject of two racist robocalls which feature a minstrel-style voice. The second robocall, which came out last week, refers to Gillum as a "negro." DeSantis's campaign was not affiliated with either call and has condemned both attacks.

The Florida governor's race has emerged as one of the most closely watched races of this campaign cycle. Trump will return to Florida on Wednesday to hold a second campaign rally for DeSantis, while former President Obama is scheduled to stump for Gillum later this week.

RealClearPolitics average of polls in the race shows Gillum leading DeSantis by 3.2 percentage points.