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  The Presidential Race Florida Is Really Talking About
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Last EditedIndyGeorgia  May 22, 2020 12:38pm
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AuthorMatt Dixon
News DateFriday, May 22, 2020 09:30:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionTALLAHASSEE, Florida—In August 2018, then-Governor Rick Scott threw what appeared to be a lifeline to the man who desperately wanted to be his successor. Adam Putnam, the baby-faced scion of political and citrus royalty, was the establishment choice going into the GOP primary, but he was struggling to shake an upstart congressman who had made a name for himself on Fox News defending the president in the Russia probe. To have Scott standing beside him for a photo—both men in light blue, button-down shirts, sleeves rolled up in classic Florida-pol style—was the kind of last-minute endorsement that he hoped might salvage his candidacy.

Putnam didn’t know it, most people covering the event didn’t either, but that appearance at a warehouse in the I-4 corridor just outside of Orlando wasn’t really about Putnam and his bid for governor. Indeed, when asked by reporters Scott denied what looked exactly like a political endorsement was an actual endorsement. Scott’s objective, say people close to the former governor, was, at least in part, more strategic and long-term. He was delivering a brush back to Putnam’s opponent Rep. Ron DeSantis, a man 26 years his junior whom Scott’s political team already suspected had national ambitions equal to his own. Scott to this day publicly denies there were underlying motivations, but there is one person who saw them clearly: DeSantis.
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