President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall, Tuesday, July 31, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The Latest: Trump compares himself to GOP icon Abe Lincoln

July 31, 2018 - 6:56 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local):

7:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump is comparing himself to an icon of the Republican Party, Abraham Lincoln.

Trump asserted Tuesday night at a rally in Tampa, Florida, that he's the most popular person in the Republican Party.

Trump is telling supporters that he can be "more presidential than any president in history," except for Lincoln, "with that big hat." The president is joking that "Abe Lincoln is tough."

The president has claimed in recent days that he has higher poll numbers than Lincoln. But he doesn't mention that there were no scientific opinion polls in the 1860s when Lincoln was president.

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7:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump is railing against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, saying it's time for Florida to vote him out of office at a Tampa, Florida, rally.

Trump has maintained a steady presence in the state, returning frequently to his winter home in Palm Beach. He says the only time he sees Nelson is "five months before every election."

He said Tuesday: "After a while, you forget who's the senator."

Nelson is being challenged by Trump ally Gov. Rick Scott in a high-profile Senate race.

Scott didn't attend the rally but joined the president earlier at a roundtable event.

Trump says he wants to make sure Scott "wins and wins big."

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7:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump is delivering a hearty endorsement for Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis as he wades into Florida's competitive gubernatorial primary.

Trump held a rally in Tampa on Tuesday in a show of force for DeSantis, who faces off against state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the state's Aug. 28 Republican primary.

Trump is praising DeSantis as "a tough, brilliant cookie" and predicts: "He's going to be your next governor."

DeSantis also made his pitch to the crowd and thanked Trump for his leadership.

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6:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump is telling students and faculty at a Tampa technical school that there has never been a better time to develop new skills or get hired for a new job.

Trump is pointing to strong economic growth and low unemployment at an event with his daughter Ivanka Trump, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and several other Florida leaders.

Trump is holding a signing ceremony for a technical education law he signed earlier in the day at the White House. He's presenting a copy of the law to the school.

It's his first of two stops during a day trip to Florida.

He'll be holding a rally later Tuesday to support Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis, who faces off against state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the state's Aug. 28 Republican primary for governor.

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6 p.m.

A handful of protesters gathered outside the fairgrounds expo hall in Tampa, Florida, to protest President Donald Trump's visit hours before his scheduled arrival.

One of the early protesters was Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Florida billionaire Jeff Greene.

He parked a bus with the words "Trump's worst nightmare" outside the venue Tuesday, drawing more than a few heckles and taunts.

He says he wants Trump "to see that not everyone believes in what he does here in Florida."

Another protester held a sign showing Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin and brought a speaker to play The Beatles' "Back in the U.S.S.R." repeatedly.

The song mixed with the taunts from people in cars and a man screaming into a loudspeaker about Jesus.

Nearby, two men held a large Confederate flag.

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6:25 a.m.

President Donald Trump is calling the conservative Koch brothers "a total joke in real Republican circles."

His comment follows an announcement that the political network created by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch would not help the Republican candidate in North Dakota's Senate race.

The group has warned that the GOP is not doing enough to contain government spending. The Koch brothers did not endorse Trump in 2016.

Trump tweets on Tuesday: "The globalist Koch Brothers, who have become a total joke in real Republican circles, are against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade. I never sought their support because I don't need their money or bad ideas."

He later added: "I'm for America First & the American Worker — a puppet for no one. Two nice guys with bad ideas."

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12:35 a.m.

President Donald Trump is diving deep into Florida's Republican politics, joining his preferred candidate for governor in a competitive primary.

Trump is holding a rally in Tampa on Tuesday in a show of force for congressman Ron DeSantis, who faces off against state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the state's Aug. 28 GOP primary.

Another Trump ally, Gov. Rick Scott, is joining the president at an event earlier in the day but steering clear of the Tampa rally as he prepares for the Senate primary. Scott is seeking to defeat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in a high-profile Senate race.

Trump has played a role in several Republican primaries, helping candidates in Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina in recent weeks with endorsements that underscore his influence within the GOP.

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