Democrats united Tuesday morning blasting President Donald Trump as wrong for Florida on issues ranging from health care to hurricane response, and from women’s issues to climate change in preparation for his 2020 reelection campaign kickoff rally in Orlando.
“It’s clear to me that Donald Trump is desperate to win Florida in 2020, so Florida Democrats are going to be on the front lines in the fight to take back the White House until the very last vote is cast,” Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said in a conference call with Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo, Orange County Democratic Party Chair Wes Hodge, and Democratic U.S. Reps. Darren Soto and Val Demings.
“We know we have our work cut out for us. But one thing we also know is working to our advantage in this campaign. And the thing that is working ot our advantage is the President now has a record to run on. The first time he ran we knew he was a con man because of his business record, stiffing contractors, lying about his net worth and so many other things. And now over the past two and a half years, he’s done the same thing to the American people: his lies and broken promises have hurt hard-working Americans.”
Perez took exception to the notion that the Democrats’ statements sound like a negative campaign strategy of attacking Trump, which could feed into a broader campaign of contrasting negatives.
Perez insisted the Democrats will be focused on fighting for what they are for: protecting health care for people with pre-existing conditions; “that it’s only one good job that’s required to feed your family;” preserving pensions, lives with dignity for people of Puerto Rico; science of climate change; women’s rights to abortions; inclusion and opportunity.
Yet the Democrats likely will find themselves on the defensive, as Trump is expected to spend much of his campaign, starting at 8 p.m. Tuesday in Orlando, painting them as socialists bent on destroying the economic boom, and as weak on border security, public safety, and national security.
Perez vowed Democrats will not be distracted.
“What the president is going to do in 2020 is exactly what he did in 2018, which is attempt to distract people from the task in hand, because he’s wrong on all the issues. In 2018 the distraction was caravans,” Perez said. “That didn’t work, because the American people saw through it.
“The distraction in 2020 will be socialism. That’s the oldest trick in the book,” Perez said. “When Democrats fought for and enacted Social Security in the ’30s, the minimum wage a few years later, Medicare and Medicaid in the ’60s, and the Affordable Care Act just a decade ago, what they all had in common was Republican opponents called those things ‘socialism.’ They’re not socialism. They’re what make capitalism work. They are the guardrails that make capitalism inclusive for everybody.”
Also during the call, Rizzo attacked the Republican tax cut bill pushed through by Trump as a “scam for the rich and powerful”; accused Trump of trying to open up oil drilling off Florida’s beaches; and charged he has refused to address the kinds of gun violence that led to catastrophes at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, and elsewhere.
Soto went after Trump for his responses to the tragic hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico and Florida, charging him with ineffective and callous indifference toward Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, and with politically holding up relief to Florida’s Panhandle after Hurricane Michael.
“It is beyond me that Donald Trump has the audacity to begin his reelection in Central Florida, home to thousands of my fellow Puerto Ricans,” Soto said. “Donald Trump is no friend to the Puerto Rican community in Florida or on the island.”
Demings and Hodge attacked Trump primarily on his efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and then to dismantle, through court challenges, its protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions.
“Donald Trump’s obsession with gutting protections is not only reckless, it’s dangerous,” Demings said. “Message to the President: That’s not going to happen. Not on our watch.”