U.S. Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks in Coconut Creek, Florida, United States on October 29, 2020.
Brian Snyder | Reuters
WASHINGTON – In Thursday's duel campaign rallies, President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden did their best to motivate and mobilize supporters to vote in key areas of must-see Florida.
Biden started the day with a socially distant drive-in rally in Coconut Creek outside of Fort Lauderdale, and he was scheduled to hold a rally in Tampa later in the day.
Meanwhile, Trump began his trip to the Sunshine State in Tampa with a full rally for thousands of largely exposed supporters that looked like a pre-coronavirus rally in every way.
Polls show Trump and Biden go head-to-head in the state, with Biden topping the margin of error for most polls, averaging 1.4 points.
Trump won Florida in 2016, 1.2 points ahead of Democrats Hillary Clinton, largely due to his performance with senior voters and white voters.
This time around, however, Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic has severely hampered his support for Florida's large population of retired voters who have suffered disproportionately from severe and fatal cases of Covid-19.
Meanwhile, Biden's support among Florida's Hispanic voters appears to be lagging behind Clinton's profit margins in 2016. At a press conference with reporters on Thursday, a Biden campaign participant said that polls among Hispanics often misrepresent the various Latino communities and thereby skew results.
Biden's pitch to Latino voters
On Thursday morning, Biden announced that if he is elected president, he would set up a federal task force "on day one" to reunite the 545 children separated from their parents by immigration officials on the southern border and whose parents have not yet done so.
In Coconut Creek, Biden also appealed directly to two reliable Republican polling stations, Cuban Americans and Venezuelan Americans, promising to stand up as president against repressive regimes in Latin America.
"Cuba is no closer to freedom and democracy today than it was four years ago. In fact, there are more political prisoners and the secret police are as brutal as ever, and Russia is once again strongly represented in Havana," he said.
Biden also attacked Trump directly, saying the president could "not promote democracy and human rights for the Cuban people or the Venezuelan people by hugging so many autocrats around the world".
But even Democrats recognize that Biden is on the verge of rising with these constituencies, which hailed Trump's reintroduction of Cuban sanctions and his support for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido.
Trump offers red meat
While Biden spoke on the east side of Florida and the Gulf side, Trump spoke for over 90 minutes in a parking lot in Tampa, where thousands of MAGA-clad supporters cheered, booed and sang slogans.
First Lady Melania Trump waves next to US President Donald Trump prior to a campaign rally in front of Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, USA, on October 29, 2020.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
Trump's speech was very reminiscent of his 2016 rallies, just on different topics. There was his classic vitriol aimed at the press, but also long riffs about his impeachment trial and tirades against China over the coronavirus and the attacks on Biden.
Trump called for the prosecution of a former Homeland Security employee, Miles Taylor, who admitted Wednesday that he was behind an anonymous New York Times that opened in 2018 and did not flatter the president.
Many of the rally attendees had "Latinos for Trump" signs that the campaign had been distributed, but Trump spent only a few minutes of the long rally targeting Hispanic voters.
"Biden's agenda is going to destroy the Hispanic American community. He cheated on Hispanic Americans for 47 years. He's been very bad with Hispanic Americans, and what happens to these polls we have the highest numbers," claimed Trump. "We're the real polls now, according to polls, we're beating Democrats for the first time with Hispanic Americans. And I've always loved them. And I think they've always loved me."
Trump is not a leader among Hispanic American voters across the country or Florida, according to major polls. But he has achieved Clinton's high margins.
He also linked Biden to the far left of the Democratic Party, a rhetorical tactic, in order then to try to tie Biden to the socialist regimes in Latin America.
"As long as I am President America will never be a socialist country, and I say it all the time," Trump said. "This choice will determine whether our children will be sentenced to the misery of socialism or whether they will inherit the glorious legacy of American freedom."
Biden has repeatedly responded to Trump's efforts to portray him as a far-left farmer by reminding voters that Biden is the Democratic candidate precisely because he ran against and defeated candidates further left than he was in the Democratic presidential primary – especially Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-identified "democratic socialist".