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Vice president visits Jacksonville, urges Floridians to vote for Ron DeSantis

Jacksonville a hot spot for campaign visits ahead of Nov. 6 election

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Vice President Mike Pence took the stage of the Prime Osborn Convention Center Thursday afternoon, telling Floridians that the Trump administration has no greater friend than Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis is in a tight and nasty race with the Tallahassee mayor, Democrat Andrew Gillum, to replace Rick Scott as Florida's chief executive.

After greeting supporters on the tarmac at the airport, Pence flew into Jacksonville International Airport with DeSantis and his wife, Casey. The Republican candidate spoke to supporters after U.S. Reps. Ted Yoho and John Rutherford and other northeast Florida elected officials and candidates warmed up the crowd.

My opponent is advocating policies that haven't worked anywhere else they've been tried," DeSantis said. "So I'm, asking you to do whatever you can between now and Election Day because if I'm governor, Florida is going to continue to lead the way," DeSantis said. "I'll leave you by saying, in the words our friends at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He said, 'Ron DeSantis is a great leader, a proud veteran, a tough, brilliant cookie who would make a great governor of Florida."

UNCUT: Ron DeSantis speaks at Jacksonville rally | Mike Pence speaks during rally

Pence, the former governor of Indiana, told the crowd he has followed DeSantis' career, worked with him in Washington and knows that he is ready to lead this state.

"Friends don't let friends vote alone. Go get a family member, a coworker, a friend, and get them out to vote for Ron DeSantis," Pence said. "Tell somebody what could happen in Florida if DeSantis is governor and Rick Scott is your U.S. senator."

The event came one day after several suspicious devices were sent to high-profile Democrats and CNN. Pence ended his remarks by saying these are more challenging times than any time in his adult life, but he has faith in our country.

"More unites us in the United States of America than will ever divide us," Pence said.

Among the 500 or so attendees was Brandon Ludwig, an 18-year-old UNF student. He said seeing candidates up close makes a difference in how he will cast his first vote.

”The biggest thing in my opinion is who puts the state – just like nationally – who stands for the values I believe in," Ludwig said. "I believe in strong conservative values and someone who will stand up for Florida and the things that have made our state successful in our last twenty years.”

Pence and Kellyanne Conway, the president's advisor, each said repeatedly that DeSantis has been one of the strongest advocates for Trump’s agenda. Conway said she believes Republicans who are not necessarily supporters of the president will still vote for DeSantis.

Florida first lady Ann Scott also stopped in Jacksonville on Thursday, attending a coffee and conversation event. Political analysts said Jacksonville can continue to expect more campaign visits ahead of the Nov. 6 election.

Former Vice President Joe Biden made an appearance Monday at the University of North Florida at a get out and vote rally, campaigning for Gillum and Sen. Bill Nelson.

Next week, President Trump will hold a rally in the Sunshine State at Hertz Arena near Fort Myers. 

About the Authors:

Kent Justice co-anchors News4Jax's 5 p.m., 10 and 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights and reports on government and politics. He also hosts "This Week in Jacksonville," Channel 4's hot topics and politics public affairs show each Sunday morning at 9 a.m.

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.