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Tweet, Tweet: Top 2017 Twitter Stories in Florida Politics

December 30, 2017 - 6:00am
Donald Trump, John Morgan, Marco Rubio and Andrew Gillum
Donald Trump, John Morgan, Marco Rubio and Andrew Gillum

Since its inception in 2006, Twitter has swept the world with its breaking, to-the-minute news coverage, changing the face of worldwide politics. Florida has been no exception, and politicos have embraced the social media platform with open arms, using Twitter to respond, interact with and even create headlines.

Here’s a look at some of the top tweets of 2017:


Donald Trump: Tweeter-In-Chief
Part-time Florida man and full-time tweeter President Donald Trump tweeted more than 2,300 times during his first year as president, causing a flurry in Washington and around the world as his 140-character tweets dominated the news cycle in 2017.

"My use of social media is not Presidential," Trump wrote on July 1, "it's MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL."

Here are some of Trump’s headline-making tweets this year.

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow..transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming...victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”

Announcements of new policy items via Twitter were nothing new for the Trump administration, but the president’s early morning tweets about reinstating a US military ban on transgender people caused a wave of commotion around the country in July. 

A little after midnight on May 30, Trump tweeted a cryptic message which sent the Twitterverse into a frenzy attempting to decipher its meaning. 

“Despite the constant negative press covfefe…”

By 6 a.m., the tweet had been deleted, but not after being meme’d thousands of times.

Trump later followed up with the below tweet:


Donald Trump Wades into Florida Governor's Race

Trump made headlines in Florida this month when he gave U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., the presidential seal of approval. DeSantis has not officially jumped into the governor's race just yet, but his campaign team dubbed the tweet an official endorsement, planning on milking the president's support for all it was worth.


DeSantis tweeted back, thanking the president for his support.


Marco Rubio or #PastorRubio? 
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio spent many days in 2017 tweeting Bible verses. Rubio selects the verses and composes the tweets himself, many of which are rumored to be commentary on current political events.


Philip Levine: Twitter Censor?
Miami Beach Mayor (and now Democratic gubernatorial candidate) Philip Levine made headlines earlier this year for apparent censorship on Twitter.

Levine’s Twitter account frequently blocked critics earlier in the year. A quick search on Twitter showed many other people had been axed from seeing what Levine was up to -- some of them merely replied to tweets criticizing him for failed projects and high crime rates. Their list of grievances against Levine is long. At the end of the day, however, they all share a common thread: they got blocked for speaking up. 

Levine later unblocked some of those who found themselves in his block crosshairs, but not until much later.


Governor Candidates Duke It Out on Twitter
Forget TV time and mailers. Perhaps the cheapest -- and quickest -- way for Florida gubernatorial candidates to debate issues was through Twitter, and they wasted no time taking full advantage of the platform in 2017.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum was perhaps most notable for stoking the fire of Twitter fights this year, perhaps as a result of his financially-strapped campaign (Twitter is much less expensive than pretty much any other means of outreach). 

The latest spat erupted over sanctuary cities, with Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam taking the first shot in person before the fight spilled onto Twitter. 

Putnam waded into the sanctuary city issue at a campaign stop in Jacksonville late last month, warning voters of a then-unnamed Democratic candidate who he said supported Florida expanding protection from deportation not just to cities and local municipalities, but statewide. 

"There’s a candidate running for governor who wants to make Florida not a sanctuary city, but a sanctuary state," Putnam said last month. "That’s crazy talk."
Gillum’s campaign team said he didn’t say anything of the sort and took the issue one step further in a tweet targeted at Putnam, calling him “racist.”
“Half true & all racist is nothing to be proud of, Commissioner,” Gillum tweeted. “I’m proud to stand up for all people - precisely what Floridians expect of their leaders.”

When asked to explain how Putnam was racist, Gillum's campaign team called the policy suggestion a "racist dog whistle."
Putnam released a quick video hours later, responding to Gillum's initial tweet.
"It's really unfortunate that we can't have a public dialogue about policy without insults," Putnam said. "Sanctuary cities are dangerous and have no place in the state of Florida. That's a fact."

John Morgan Waves Goodbye to Democratic Party
Orlando superattorney and Florida’s biggest medical marijuana backer John Morgan is perhaps one of the more prolific Twitter users in Florida politics.
Morgan, long rumored to be a top contender for the Democratic Party for Florida governor, never wastes an opportunity to comment on current political events. In November, he made headlines when he announced he would be leaving the party and become an Independent.
“Spent all of Thanksgiving with my whole family,” Morgan wrote. “While it’s amazing to be leading the polls for Governor without being a candidate I can’t muster the enthusiasm to run for the nomination.”








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