Florida Democrats were in a celebratory mood Thursday, saying President Joe Biden‘s speech Wednesday night drove home what they see as successful and enormously popular initiatives he has pushed in his first 100 days with no help from Republicans.
“This is a day of celebration for all of us,” U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson of Miami Gardens said on a Zoom-carried news conference organized by the Florida Democratic Party. “We have bragging rights because we have so much to brag about.”
“President Biden just crushed it,” said U.S. Rep. Darren Soto of Kissimmee.
Wilson and Soto were joined by U.S. Reps. Val Demings of Orlando and Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, and Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny A. Diaz in assessing the more than $5 trillion in COVID-19 relief, infrastructure, and family and education proposals Biden has rolled out, and his Wednesday night address on them to a joint session of Congress.
They painted the President, the Democratic Party, Congress, the nation, and Florida as uplifted, buoyed by Biden’s tone, aid from $1,400 checks to individuals and aid to businesses, schools, and cities, and by the plans for massive infrastructure and social services spending.
“We can’t forget where we started,” Murphy offered, noting that just 4% of Americans had been vaccinated when Biden took office, and now that’s up to 43%.
“What a difference 100 days can make,” Diaz said. “Last night and over the course of the last 100 days we have witnessed a new day in America.”
“When you look at the clarity of message, on everything from the vaccines to the pandemic to the economy, to what we are going to do going forward, you could see a clarity of vision,” Soto said of Biden’s speech. “And he spoke to the American people in a way we haven’t seen in a long time.”
The call featured three potential Democratic statewide candidates in Murphy and the Demings spouses. But in Thursday’s call none made any overt 2022 statewide campaign appeals. And in many ways the more-passionate Wilson and the more-detail focused Soto stole the show.
Rep. Demings likened Trump’s tenure to a time that felt as if the country was waiting for help, holding on, until help could arrive.
“That’s what it has been like, for all of us, for the last four years across this country,” she said. “We were holding on, many times feeling like we were in a fight all by ourselves, just holding on through a public health pandemic, holding on while we watched our loved ones, many got sick but many died. Holding on through an economic crisis. Holding on while our businesses struggled.”
“Help has arrived,” she said.
Occasionally the conversation strayed from Biden, most particularly when Wilson and Diaz trashed Florida Republicans in the Legislaure for pushing through legislation Wednesday to ban transgender athletes from playing on girls’ teams in Florida.
Wilson called the legislation egregious, inhumane, dumb, and a sin.
“We’re going backward in Florida,” Wilson said. “And it is so inhuman, the kind of schemes that the Legislature puts their heads together and comes up with so many laws that hurt people and tear out the hearts of people. These are human beings. No fault of their own. That’s who they are. Allow them to live a full life, a good life.”