Ron DeSantis dodges question about Trump's Hurricane Maria death toll tweet

GOP gubernatorial candidate making campaign stops across Central Florida

By Amanda Castro - Reporter/Anchor

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis continued to rally support ahead of the November primary election Saturday with several stops across Central Florida.

The GOP congressman started his day of campaigning at the Republican Party of Seminole County headquarters.

"I think Florida has done a lot of good things in terms of our economic development. I think we're also doing good things in terms of education and keeping people safe," DeSantis said. "I think we can do better and I'm committed to building off that success."

DeSantis was joined by his running mate Jeanette Nunez. The GOP candidates are making several stops in Central Florida this weekend, including in Orlando and Vero Beach.

Ron DeSantis greets attendees at his Seminole County campaign rally

Saturday marked the first time the public has heard from the Republican gubernatorial candidate following President Donald Trump's tweet this week in which he denied the death count of nearly 3,000 Puerto Ricans from Hurricane Maria.

DeSantis dodged News 6's questions about the tweet.

"I think it was a devastating storm. I think there was a lot of loss of life. I think I made my point clear. I also think the Democrats tried to politicize all of this stuff," DeSantis said.

DeSantis also refused to respond to the report that Louis Marin, the vice chairman of Orange County's Republican Executive Committee, posted social media conspiracy theories, saying he shared them as a way to have an open discussion and debate online.

Just a couple weeks ago, another elected GOP official in the same committee, Kathy Gibson, came under fire for posting a racially charged meme on social media. Gibson claimed her Facebook was hacked, yet DeSantis called for her resignation.

"I'm not going to get sidetracked into focusing on somebody who put something stupid. Half of the crap on Facebook is crap. Give me a break. We got to stop doing that and I'm not going to let people try to impute things to me that I didn't say or do. I'm going to focus on these issues that are important," DeSantis said.

Attendees pose with cutouts at Ron DeSantis' first campaign rally

One issue DeSantis said is important to his campaign is Florida's dirty water. DeSantis said he is already working with the federal government to clean up the waterways. He adds, if elected, he'll make sure this is a top priority.

"I will appoint people to the water management boards who understand the need for having clean water and how that affects local communities, local economies and property rights, and they're going to be good to help manage this," DeSantis said. 

Attendees pose with signs at Ron DeSantis' first campaign rally

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