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In Gillum’s absence, running mate Chris King brings healthcare attack on Ron DeSantis to Tampa

King blasts DeSantis for lack of a healthcare plan during campaign stop in Tampa Monday
Hillsborough Democratic Party chairwoman Ione Townsend speaks at a campaign event for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum outside the County Center Monday. Gillum's running mate Chris King, center, and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, Dem also spoke at the event.
Hillsborough Democratic Party chairwoman Ione Townsend speaks at a campaign event for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum outside the County Center Monday. Gillum's running mate Chris King, center, and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, Dem also spoke at the event.
Published Oct. 15, 2018|Updated Oct. 15, 2018

TAMPA – While Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum focuses on hurricane recovery in Tallahassee, running mate Chris King is continuing to attack Republican nominee Ron DeSantis on health care.

During a campaign stop in downtown Tampa on Monday morning, King blasted DeSantis for campaigning more than 250 days without explaining to voters his plans for health care.

"Many Floridians think this is the most important issue in this election cycle," King said. "We are running against a major nominee from the other party that, 22 days from the election, does not have a a plan."

King was joined by U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, who said voters should look at DeSantis's record in Congress, where he voted repeatedly to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The act, commonly known as Obamacare, made it illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing health issues.

"I've had a front row seat to this for may years," Castor said. "Republican Ron DeSantis has voted time and time again to strip that all important protection for pre-existing conditions from your healthcare and the healthcare of your family and your friends."

Gillum has made health care a central part of his campaign with pledges to expand Medicaid to cover an extra 1 million Floridians, and to strengthen the state's insurance exchanges.

By contrast, the "issues" page of DeSantis' campaign website list the economy, illegal immigration, education and judicial activism. It is silent on health care.  The Tampa Bay Times requested a comment from the DeSantis campaign but the campaign has not responded.

If elected, a Gillum administration would likely face fierce resistance from a Republican-controlled state House and Senate ideologically opposed to Medicaid expansion.

King said Monday other states that faced an uncooperative legislature put the issue on the ballot. That could be an option for Florida, he said.

"We will do everything in our power to expand Medicaid and to strengthen the exchanges so there are more affordable products," he said. "We want to do that legislatively and if that doesn't work, we will take it to the voters."

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