US President Donald Trump has said he would blame Florida Governor Ron DeSantis if he lost the key battleground state in November, threatening to fire him.
“Hey Ron, are we gonna win the state please?” Trump asked DeSantis, a Republican and a staunch ally of the president at a rally in Ocala, Florida on Friday.
“You know if we don’t win it, I’m blaming the governor,” Trump said. “I’ll fire him somehow. I’m going to fire him. I will find a way.”
The remark raised eyebrows given Trump’s history of accusing Democratic governors of attempting to “steal the election.”
For months, Trump has alleged that Democrats are rigging the election by expanding mail-in voting and enforcing stay-at-home orders designed to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
The president made several other shocking statements at his rally in Florida, including encouraging his fans to chant “12 more years” instead of “four more years.”
It was not the first time Trump raised the controversial issue at his campaign rallies. In September, the president said he would negotiate for a third term in office, arguing he was “entitled” to it.
Also in September, Trump went so far as suggesting he might issue an executive order to prevent Democratic nominee Joe Biden from becoming president. “You can’t have this guy as your president,” he said.
Republican officials in Florida are attempting to shut down ballot drop boxes just days before in-person early voting begins, creating new obstacles for absentee voters.
The move is in line with Trump’s efforts to question the validity of absentee ballots and marks another attempt by state Republicans to suppress the vote.
Republicans across key battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Florida and Wisconsin are mobilizing thousands of volunteers to watch early voting sites and ballot drop boxes.
Critics slam the move as a scare tactic designed to find evidence to back up President Trump’s unsubstantiated complaints about widespread voter fraud.
Trump told his supporters Friday, “We’re going to win the state of Florida. We’re going to win the White House.”
The president predicted a “red wave” of Republican voting in the state, “the likes of which they’ve never seen before.”
Florida is notorious for producing close results in past presidential elections.
An average of recent polling shows Biden leading Trump by 3.9 percent in the battleground state as of Friday.
Trump won the state over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by just over 1 percent in 2016.