Can GOP Congressional Candidates be America First and Still Back Rand Paul for President?

Can GOP Congressional Candidates be America First and Still Back Rand Paul for President?

Javier Manjarres
Javier Manjarres
May 11, 2022

The already-contentious Republican congressional primary race in Florida’s newly-drawn 7th District is about to blow up as both Combat veteran Cory Mills and Florida State Rep. Anthony Sabatini have begun to exchange political jabs as they vie for the support of the Trump base of the Republican Party.

For the past few months, Mills has been scorching Rep. Sabatini for voting as a Democrat in the 2008 and 2012 Democratic presidential primary elections and has even called him a “RINO” (Republican in name only) for siding with Progressive Democrat Rep. Anna Eskamani in voting against the state budget that Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign into law in the coming weeks.

Sabatini was the sole Republican vote along with 6 Progressive Democrats, including Rep. Eskmani, to vote down the proposed budget.

Mills has dropped political mail pieces in the district to highlight his assertion that Sabatini is a “RINO” and questioning his America First bona fides.

Sabatini, who has in the past referred to Mills as “a goofy” and not a “serious candidate” has countered his mailer with his own.

Sabatini’s mailers have been to promote his conservative bona fides and try to convince voters that Gov. Ron DeSantis is supporting his candidacy.

The Floridian reached out to Gov. DeSantis’s Executive Office and was told to reach out to the campaign.

DeSantis’s campaign did not comment on the mailer.

The Showdown

During the May meeting of the Volusia County Republican Executive Committee, Sabatini without mentioning his name jabbed Mills for not being from and living in Florida.

Mills followed Sabatini and emphasized that he was the only candidate in the race that was actually born in Florida.

Sabatini was born in New York, Mills was born in Winter Haven, Florida.

Mills, who has been targeted by the House Progressive "Squad" recently visited the U.S. border with Mexico, continued, and like Sabatini, did not mention his opponent's name but did say that if anyone is going to talk about fixing the broken immigration system they should at the very least go to the border with Mexico and see for themselves that what is transpiring.

Sabatini spoke about fixing the immigration problem along the border.

President Donald Trump

Both Sabatini and Mills have pledged themselves to the America First agenda former President Trump has championed, and both men have expressed  support for Trump’s probable 2024 run for re-election.

But while both men appear to check off all the MAGA boxes, Sabatini has veered off the America First path a bit.

On June 3, 2021, just 6 months after Capitol Riot in Washington, D.C., when Trump was still in office, Sabatini tweeted his support for a potential Senator Rand Paul presidential run

@RandPaul for President #Fauci for Prison,” stated Sabatini.

It’s not clear if Sabatini was stating his support for a 2024 presidential run by Paul, or if it was a blanket statement with no election cycle in mind. Either way, his tweet could be a problem considering that every single self-styled America First candidate and lawmaker are still fully supporting President Trump.

Mills appears to be steadfast in his support for a 2024 Trump reelection campaign.

Sabatini has also broken with Trump on foreign aid and support for Israel.

“I’m not for any foreign aid whatsoever to any country, for any purpose, so that just very easily fixes that. I just don’t believe in foreign aid. I’m very America First in that regard,” said Sabatini in a July 9, 2021 interview.

Trump’s America First foreign aid policy was one of slash and burn, but while he cut aid to many countries,  Trump increased aid to Israel.

"We are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us, and frankly, are our friends,” said Trump during an address to the United Nations in 2018.

Another candidate in the race, former COS to Rep. John Mica and DeSantis appointee, Rusty Roberts, also believes in limiting foreign aid.

“While some foreign aid is important to US international engagement, we should look to our own country’s needs before obligating more tax dollars to other countries,” said Roberts in response to our request for comment. “There needs to be more accountability on how our money is spent globally, with expiration dates and annual reviews by Congress.”


While Sabatini’s remark against foreign aid to any  country, including Israel, Mills sides with Trump and  believes in only offering foreign aid to Israel and “our friends.”

Mills stated that Trump's support for Israel, particularly with his effort to bolster that country's Iron Dome defense system,  “saved hundreds of thousands of Israeli and Americans living in Israel.”

“President Trump was Israel’s greatest friend in the White House, and his unwavering support in defense of our ally and friend in the Middle East is beyond reproach, and the President’s foreign aid has saved hundreds of thousands of Israeli and Americans living in Israel,” said Mills in a statement.

“Israel is doing the clandestine work required to prevent expansion and thwart efforts by terrorists. We need to continue to support programs like the Iron Dome to protect innocent lives from being lost,” added Mills before taking another jab at Sabatini. “Anyone who says they do not support U.S. sending “any foreign aid” like that needed in Israel is an enemy of Freedom and does not understand President Trump’s America First policies.”

With Sabatini and Mills going mano a mano three months from their primary election, could it open the door for some less known and less funded candidates to sneak in through the back door and win the election?

Sabatini could not be reached for comment for this story.

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Javier Manjarres

Javier Manjarres

Javier Manjarres is a nationally renowned award-winning political journalist and Publisher of,,, and He enjoys traveling, playing soccer, mixed martial arts, weight-lifting, swimming, and biking. Javier is also a political consultant and has also authored "BROWN PEOPLE," which is a book about Hispanic Politics. Follow on Twitter: @JavManjarres Email him at

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