Candidate Adam Putnam: Fight hatred, don't fight over statues
MONTICELLO -- Republican candidate for governor Adam Putnam told party activists Tuesday night that the violence by white supremacists in Charlottesville last weekend "is just awful. And it's hate and it's violent and it's dark, and it's got no place in our society and all of us ought to stand up together and say we're just not going to do that. That's not welcome in our society, that type of white supremacy and hatred and just going after each other."
The agriculture commissioner spoke at a Reagan Day barbecue to members of Leon and Jefferson county Republican parties. While he condemned the acts of those in Virginia, he stopped well short of calling for the removal of Confederate monuments in Florida and in other southern states.
"We need to be learning from that process, not just eradicating it from memory," Putnam told the crowd. "We ought to be focused more on eradicating hate today than eradicating yesteryear's history ... Are we going to have to rename Jefferson County? Are we going to have to rename Washington County? Rename Jackson County? Where does it end?"
"No," Putnam said, answering his own question. "That's not the lessons for our kids. The lesson for our kids is you better know your history or you're doomed to repeat it." He said future children should watch video of helpless victims jumping out of the World Trade Center to escape flames during the 9/11 attacks.
In the aftermath of Saturday's shocking events in Virginia, when a man rammed through a crowd of counter-demonstrators in his car, killing a woman, Putnam's initial tweet said: "Hate is not welcome in this country and it will not be tolerated."
About 150 people endured stifling humidity at the barbecue, where another prospective candidate for governor, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, took part in the state GOP giving $7,000 to the Jefferson County Republican Party. Speaking with reporters, Corcoran said it was wrong to criticize President Donald J. Trump's choice of words in his initial reaction to the events, when he criticized violence "on many sides."
Said Corcoran: "I think the scrutiny on that is wholly unnecessary ... Focusing on the missing one word in an initial statement when I think it's patently clear from the administration that this was an atrocity, it was evil, and it was evil because of those by name -- neo-Nazis, white supremacists, that they named -- it's all addressed."
Corcoran has been traveling the state extensively, speaking this week along to a GOP club in Pembroke Pines and at a convention of charter school teachers in Fort Lauderdale. He looks like a candidate and says he may run for governor, but he won't make a final decision until next March, when the 2018 legislative session is scheduled to end.