One of the most contentious and hard-fought elections of this year’s midterms was the Florida gubernatorial race, which pitted Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis against Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D). The race went to an automatic machine recount after the Election Day results showed DeSantis with a margin of victory of less than half a percent — but despite the recount, a plethora of Democrat-favorable ballots “found” by officials days after the election, and a flurry of legal challenges, it appears that DeSantis’ lead has prevailed.
Gillum finally conceded on Saturday, prompting President Donald Trump to respond with a conciliatory tweet to that congratulated the Democrat on his unsuccessful effort.
Congratulations to Andrew Gillum on having run a really tough and competitive race for Governor of the Great State of Florida. He will be a strong Democrat warrior long into the future – a force to reckon with!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 17, 2018
A conciliatory message for Gillum
Trump’s apparently friendly tweet to Gillum following the concession caught many in the political punditry by surprise, given how rough the campaign had been.
Trump’s congratulatory message also seemed unusually positive in comparison to the harsh rhetoric that had flown just days and weeks earlier.
The Washington Examiner noted that Trump, who had campaigned heavily in support of DeSantis, had eviscerated Gillum as a corrupt socialist who had ruined the city of Tallahassee and would do the same to the entire state of Florida if elected.
Gillum responded to those attacks during his campaign and after the election with some fire of his own, at one point even tweeting that Trump was “embarrassing to democracy” after the president called the candidate out over his first concession, which was retracted days later.
Kind words for Abrams and Pelosi as well
Separately, Trump also offered up a rather conciliatory message of support for the Democrat candidate who lost a tough race for governor in Georgia, Stacey Abrams, who finally — if angrily — conceded her race to Republican governor-elect Brian Kemp on Friday.
Within a tweet congratulating Kemp on his victory, Trump also said: “Stacey Abrams fought brilliantly and hard — she will have a terrific political future!”
Those two tweets coincided with a few messages of outreach and support to Democrat House Leader Nancy Pelosi, who stands poised to take over the Speakership, but is facing a challenge from some in her Democratic Party base.
President Trump could have piled on Gillum and Abrams and celebrated their losses — likely engendering more hard feelings — or he could have just ignored them and congratulated the winners.
Instead, he reached out to those who fought hard in their campaigns and congratulated them on their valiant, if unsuccessful, efforts at electoral victory — a gracious move that will no doubt be dismissed by a spiteful liberal media.