Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden reemphasized the importance of Florida in the 2020 presidential election Thursday, as he spoke to socially distanced rally-goers in Broward County.
“This election is the most important one you’ve ever voted in whether it’s your first or tenth,” Biden told the crowd.
“Right here in Florida, it’s up to you. You hold the key. If Florida goes blue, it’s over.”
Biden can almost certainly bank on a win if he defeats Donald Trump in Florida. Without Florida’s 29 electoral votes, Trump would face a nearly insurmountable path to a second term.
The President is well aware of that reality, as he hosted a simultaneous rally in Tampa Thursday as Biden spoke to deep-blue Broward County.
The Democratic nominee spent part of his speech directly appealing to the Hispanic community, where some data has shown him lagging the pace his campaign had hoped to set.
Biden called President Trump “the worst possible standard-bearer for democracy” as he laid into the President for cozying up to autocrats around the world such as Vladimir Putin of Russia, Kim Jong-Un of North Korea and Recep Erdoğan of Turkey.
“President Trump can’t advance democracy and human rights to the Cuban people or the Venezuelan people, for that matter, when he had embraced so many autocrats around the world,” Biden argued.
“It’s unconscionable that the Trump administration, which says they care so much, are deporting hundreds of Cubans and Venezuelans back to their dictatorships. Trump loves to talk, but he doesn’t care about Cuban and Venezuelan people. He won’t even grant Temporary Protective Status to Venezuelans fleeing the oppressive regime of [Nicolás] Maduro, who I’ve met with, and he’s a thug.”
In a statement issued Thursday, Trump Victory spokesperson Emma Vaughn sought to jab Biden over his crowd sizes, which have been limited to follow safety protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“All 10 Joe Biden supporters must be excited for his gaffe-filled rallies today,” Vaughn said. “Meanwhile, President Trump looks forward to sharing the Great American Comeback with thousands of enthusiastic Floridians in his home state. Go home Biden, your basement misses you.”
It’s true Trump has courted massive crowds dating back to his 2016 rallies — crowds Biden was unlikely to match pandemic or no pandemic. But it’s unclear whether attacking Biden for following social distancing measures while Trump repeatedly shirks his own administration’s guidelines will play well as COVID-19 cases rise across the country.
Biden himself called Trump rallies “super-spreader events” during Thursday’s speech.
“He’s spreading more virus around the country, and here in Florida, today. He’s spreading division in addition, division and discord. We need a President who’s going to bring us together, not pull us apart.”
Polling has been tight in the state. RealClearPolitics gives Biden a less than 1 point lead as of this posting. FiveThirtyEight has slightly better odds for Biden, placing his lead at around 2 points.
Biden is hoping he can repeat the success that he and former President Barack Obama saw here in previous cycles.
“In 2008 and 2012, Florida placed their trust in me and Barack and each day we were in office we worked as hard for you and the entire country as we did for not red states, blue states — it was always the United States of America,” Biden said.
“I promise you, if you elect me, when I’m wrong, I will acknowledge it, I will take responsibility. But I’ll tell you what, I’m going to unite this country and we’re going to move like we haven’t in a long time.”