• Trump holds campaign rally in Tampa

    By: Jason Kelly

    Updated:

    TAMPA, Fla. - President Donald Trump is wading into Florida's internal Republican politics, joining his endorsed candidate for governor in a competitive primary.

    Trump held a rally in Tampa on Tuesday night in a show of support for U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who faces off against state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the Florida GOP primary Aug. 28.

    Read: Trump comes to Florida: When, where, how to go

    Trump took the stage at the Florida State Fairgrounds shortly after 7 p.m. and spoke for more than an hour.

    "He's tough, he's smart and he loves Florida and he loves our country and he's going to be your next governor -- Ron DeSantis," he said. "He's brilliant, a really smart cookie."

    Trump also discussed the strong economy, among other things.

    "The economy grew at 4.1 percent," he said.

    Read: Florida governor won't be at Trump rally in Tampa

    The rally took place on the same day as the beginning of the trial of Paul Manafort, the former campaign chief for Trump's 2016 presidential election campaign.

    Manafort faces 18 counts of bank fraud and tax evasion charges in Virginia. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

    Watch: Livestream of Trump's Tampa rally

    The trial is the first in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    Channel 9's Christopher Heath covered the rally. Follow him on Twitter for a behind-the-scenes look at the rally, and watch his full report on Channel 9 Eyewitness News.

    The Associated Press and USA Today contributed to this report.

    Read: Election checklist: Who's running in Central Florida's big 2018 races

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