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Donald Trump threw red meat to the base this week by dramatically undercutting the Obamacare health system, sending notice he was willing to scuttle the nuclear deal with Iran, moving to roll back coal-plant limits, and again demanding a wall along the Mexican border.

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Joe Henderson: Donald Trump needs Florida seniors, but will they be there for him?

Joe Biden’s health care argument seems to be a winning argument at this point

With apologies to James Carville and his famous advice in 1992 to Bill Clinton about the economy, this election comes down to one basic thing for Florida senior citizens.

It’s health care, stupid.

If Donald Trump loses Florida and its 29 electoral votes this time, health care will be the reason why.

Seniors, who make up about 22% of Florida’s population, gave Trump a 17-point edge over Hillary Clinton in 2016.

A University of North Florida poll earlier this month shows how much that support has eroded. While Trump still leads Joe Biden by 17 points among those age 55-64, that number shrinks dramatically with those 65 and over.

Trump’s lead there is only 50%-47%.

Biden, by the way, beats Trump in every other age category.

Seniors consume as much and probably more news than other age groups in Florida. They watched as friends and family members were quarantined for months in nursing homes and assisted living facilities because of COVID-19.

An AARP poll showed more than half of Florida voters 50 and older worry about contracting COVID-19. Nearly half, 48%, are concerned health coverage will be too expensive for them to afford.

An estimated one out of every four Florida seniors knows someone who died from the virus.

This stuff is real.

They’re also aware, though, that the Trump administration continues to advocate for dismantling the Affordable Care Act. Seniors were fed a barrage of ads attacking Trump on health care.

A particularly devastating one used video footage of Trump casually saying, “We want to terminate health care.”

While the quote was taken somewhat out of context, that’s not a good look during a pandemic, especially with COVID-19 rates increasing around the country.

While not related to health care, Trump also wants to slash the payroll tax that largely funds Social Security. That won’t help his standing with seniors.

However, it’s the steady drumbeat of health care that carries Biden’s campaign in Florida.

He reminded voters of how important health insurance was after losing his wife and daughter in a car accident as he was sworn into the Senate. The insurance was critical to the care of his two sons.

Biden’s TV presence also highlights his proposals to help bring the country out of the pandemic while the nation’s death toll continues to rise.

Republicans have tried to turn the narrative. They continue to dredge up Clinton’s emails, which elicited mostly yawns, and play gotcha with Biden’s son, Hunter.

Trump portrays himself as a he-man during rallies. He rarely wears a face mask. The inference, of course, is that the virus is nothing to be feared. But Trump also claimed that COVID-19 affects mainly seniors, and don’t think that didn’t resonate throughout this state.

Trump won Florida in 2016 by about 112,911 votes out of more than 10 million cast. He needed every bit of support that seniors gave him then, and he really needs it now.

After looking at the issues and poll numbers, though, it might not be there.

Written By

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.
Email: Peter@FloridaPolitics.com
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St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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