Presidential visit puts Florida back in the political spotlight

As the schedule of events for President Trump's visit to Tampa is coming into focus a day before his arrival, one of the state's leading political analysts is weighing in on how the president can impact the state's midterm races.

The president will make a stop at Tampa Bay Technical College early Tuesday evening before heading to the Florida State Fairgrounds, where he'll hold a campaign-style rally for which he has become known.

"The Tampa media market is the state's largest and it has the largest number of registered Republicans in the whole state.  Tampa is key to who wins any election statewide," said Dr. Susan MacManus, who was USF's preeminent political analyst until her recent retirement. "Both parties know that Florida is central to control of the U.S. Congress and control of Florida in the future."

Jim Waurishuk, Hillsborough County's GOP chairman, said his office worked to bring the president to Tampa for more than a month.

"We got a call from the White House and they were basically looking at the opportunity to help push the president's agenda on vocational schools and technical training," he explained. "I said, 'Well, since you're here and it's a late afternoon event, is there a possibility you might want to consider doing a rally here?"

Waurishuk said he's excited to welcome President Trump back to the Tampa Bay area, where he'll make his first public appearance since his presidential campaign.

"When you think of the 3,400-or-so, whatever the number is, counties across the country and he may go to an event a week or so, it's gratifying to be able to get the opportunity to do that," he said.

During the rally at the fairgrounds, President Trump is expected to stump for Congressman Ron DeSantis, who is locked in a tight gubernatorial race with Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam.

MacManus explained why this is rare for a president to do.

"It is unusual for a president to pick sides; it's like picking among your children. That's particularly the old-timer’s view of politics. Today's politics are a little bit different: if you want to control, you sort of pick sides. And you're seeing it on both sides of the aisle, not just the Republican side," she said. "There are some Republicans that do not like the fact that a president taking sides in a party primary, but he's doing it everywhere, not just Florida. And he's being very successful."

President Trump's support appears to be impacting the race so far; most polls have DeSantis holding an average of an 11-point lead over Putnam.