Dems fear loss of support from Florida Latinos
MIAMI — Sen. Kamala Harris’ motorcade raced past Colombian neighborhoods and made a quick stop for takeout in Doral — or “Doralzuela” as it’s known locally because of its large Venezuelan population — before speeding through the Cuban stronghold of Hialeah.
But during her first trip to Florida as Joe Biden’s running mate last week, Harris did little to court this region’s booming — and politically influential — Latino population. She instead focused on African American leaders waiting at a historically Black university in Miami Gardens.
“You truly are the future of our country,” Harris said into a megaphone after the motorcade pulled up to Florida Memorial University. “You are the ones who are going to inspire us and fight for the ideals of our country.”
In America’s leading presidential battleground, there’s mounting anxiety among Democrats that the Biden campaign’s standing among Latinos is slipping, potentially giving President Trump an opening in his reelection bid. That’s fueling an urgent effort by Biden, Harris and their allies to shore up older voters, suburbanites and African Americans to make up for potential shortcomings elsewhere.
New York billionaire Mike Bloomberg committed over the weekend to spend at least $100 million in Florida to help the Democratic ticket. Biden is scheduled to make his first visit to the state as the Democratic nominee on Tuesday, where he will hold a roundtable with veterans in Tampa before attending a Hispanic Heritage Month event in Kissimmee.
If Biden reclaims the upper Midwest for Democrats, he won’t need Florida to capture the presidency. But Trump has virtually no path to reelection without it, which is why the state remains a top priority for
Concerns about Biden’s strength in Florida were driven in part by an Nbcmarist poll released last week, which found Latinos in the state about evenly divided between Biden and Trump.
“Right now, I think the Biden campaign has work to do,” says Javier Fernandez, a Democrat running for the state Senate in Miamidade County. “I don’t know that they’re super excited about Joe Biden.”
Biden’s uncertain status with Latinos confounds many Democrats who point to Trump’s repeated antiimmigrant rhetoric, his struggle to contain the pandemic and his slow response to the hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico.
Robert Mcknight and his children wait for the arrival of Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris last Thursday at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens.