Trump slams Florida governor candidate as 'thief'

Washington (AFP) - US President Donald Trump attacked Florida's Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum as a "thief" on Monday, accusing the Tallahassee mayor, who is African-American, of running a corrupt city.

The tweet against Gillum came after Trump said he would tone down his campaign rhetoric Saturday following a shooting rampage at a synagogue in Pittsburgh that killed 11 Jewish worshippers.

"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.

Trump has been accused of fueling racial tensions. He has described some Mexicans as "rapists," branded a black congresswoman "low IQ," and blamed "both sides" for deadly violence at a white supremacist rally last year in Virginia.

Video: Gillum Holds South Florida Rallies

The president cited no evidence for his Gillum attack.

The FBI has been conducting a probe of alleged public corruption in Tallahassee, and while Gillum has said he has been told he is not the target, Republicans have used the investigation as a cudgel against him.

The progressive Gillum, who pulled off a shock victory in the Democratic Party primary in August, responded swiftly to Trump, saying on Twitter that the president "is howling because he's weak. Florida, go vote today."

The midterm elections are on November 6, but several states including Florida allow early voting.

DeSantis himself has been widely criticized for urging Florida voters not to "monkey this up" by electing Gillum, a comment denounced as racist.

The governor's race is rated a tossup by the Cook Political Report.

Gillum said earlier Monday that Trump's predecessor Barack Obama will campaign with him Friday in Miami.