Biden hopes to use Florida’s ‘extreme MAGA Republicans’ as fodder for his midterm shutdown camp
By the time President Joe Biden Democrats rallied in Florida on Tuesday for a final stop of the campaign, finally landing in the state that their advisers have long had eyes on as the ideal background for their warnings against the “mega-MAGA” Republicans.
For months, Biden and his team have been hoping to use the Florida constellation Trump-aligned Republicans – including the former president himself – to crystallize The closing side of Biden that the election is a choice and not a referendum and galvanize democratic voters.
“You can’t shake a stick (in Florida) without hitting a Republican who represents the MAGA extremes that the president is talking about,” said a senior Biden adviser. “So it allows the president to really drive home what’s at stake and what the choice is.”
Biden makes this argument to voters in Miami Gardens on Tuesday, a week from election day. The rally comes as Biden has stepped up his attacks on Republicans and painted an increasingly bleak picture of America under a Republican majority in Congress.
The Sunshine State represents an important battleground state for the midterms and future presidential elections. But more importantly, with the president’s approval ratings under water, the Biden team sees Florida as the perfect political backdrop to frame the midterm elections as a choice – between “extreme Republicans MAGA ” and Democrats – rather than a referendum on the president and his party, second. to several Biden advisers and Democratic officials.
Biden’s team first identified Florida as an ideal launching point for his midterm message during the summer. That kickoff was delayed by the president’s Covid-19 diagnosis and scuttled again by Hurricane Ian, so Biden chose it as is. the place for a big rally as he makes his final argument before next week’s midterm elections.
He relied on the policy proposals of Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott and the threats of Republican brinkmanship on the debt ceiling to argue that the GOP will hurt the economy and put at risk the programs of the popular right. And with elderly-heavy Florida as a backdrop, Biden will also hold an official event before the rally, calling attention to the Republicans’ Social Security and Medicare proposals.
Democratic officials are under no illusions about Biden’s visit to Florida on Tuesday it will drastically change the dynamics of a Senate and the gubernatorial race that seem to be heading in the way of the Republicans, but they see a chance to nationalize the action of the midterms in the final stretch.
Among his main targets is Scott, the Republican campaign manager who had set a policy agenda that would put Medicare, Social Security and other government programs up for a vote every five years. The state is also home to former President Donald Trump and Governor Ron DeSantis, the two likely 2024 presidential candidates that Democrats are eager to cast as the faces of a new, more extreme Republican Party.
A second senior Biden adviser argued that Biden’s counterargument, with Florida as the backdrop, is “even more relevant” in the closing week of the mandates.
“As the Republican plan in Congress to eliminate Social Security and Medicare, cut Social Security and Medicare or hold it hostage to debt limit negotiations becomes even more apparent … it is even more relevant for the president to do this choice for the voters of Florida and the United States. voters across the country,” said the senior adviser.
Biden is holding the rally in Florida largely at the urging of the state’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate, former governor Charlie Crist, according to two Democrats familiar with the decision.
In an interview with CNN on the eve of Biden’s visit to his state, Crist was effusive about the president’s willingness to run alongside him in the final half of the term, as he hopes to refuse the re-election of DeSantis.
“He is the most important man in the world,” Crist said. “The fact that he’s coming to Florida with a week to go until the election says everything you need to know about how important Florida is.”
More than any other issue, Crist said he hoped — and expected — Biden to zero-in on the issue of abortion rights when the president headlines the rally for Crist and Senate candidate Val Demings. DeSantis’ track record as governor on the issue speaks for itself, Crist said, adding that abortion rights is the “number one issue” in his race.
When Biden visited Florida last month to survey damage from Hurricane Ian, the president and DeSantis put aside their political differences to emphasize an effective response.
“We have very different political philosophies, but we work hand in hand,” Biden said during the stop.
But a few weeks later, the governor made it clear that Biden was still in his sights as a potential rival, although he opposed a potential national race during a debate with Crist.
“I just want to make things very, very clear,” DeSantis said. “The only old crook I’m trying to put to pasture is Charlie Crist.”
While Democratic officials insist that Biden is primarily focused on the upcoming midterms, the campaign on behalf of the Democrat running to unseat DeSantis this week could offer in part a glimpse of what a Biden-DeSantis matchup might look like. be in 2024. In a debate the last. week, DeSantis would not commit to a full four-year term if he were to win re-election.
“DeSantis’ first and last question is, ‘What do I need to do for DeSantis to succeed?’ That’s the same conversation Trump is having with himself,” said Cedric Richmond, senior adviser to the Democratic National Committee.
Still, Biden’s decision to rally in Florida — where neither the governor’s nor the Senate races are particularly close — a week out from the election calls attention to the limits of his ability to influence voters in the end of the campaign. It also highlights the extent to which Biden has struggled to convince voters to see the election as something more than a referendum on him and his party amid economic woes.
With 56% of Americans disapproving of the job Biden has done as president, according to CNN’s Poll of Polls, he has been largely abandoned by the public campaign with many of the Democratic candidates in the most competitive races in the country.
Biden brushed off suggestions that he wasn’t asked on the campaign trail, insisting to reporters that more than a dozen different campaigns had asked him in the run-up to the contest.
“That’s not true. There were 15. Count, kid, count,” he said last week when a reporter suggested he hadn’t held many rallies in the final stretch.
Privately, Biden accepts that not all Democratic candidates will welcome him as a surrogate while his approval ratings remain underwater. He told fellow Democrats that he respected their political intuition when it came to their own races and joked publicly that he would “campaign for … or against” his preferred candidates, “depending on who would help the more”.
But he has become frustrated by coverage that suggests he is a political albatross, according to people familiar with the conversations, arguing that his policies — when properly explained — are very popular with voters.
Democrats familiar with the decision acknowledged that Biden is not asked by the campaigns in the most competitive races. They also argued that demonstrations are costly and less valuable from an organizational perspective than they used to be.
What is clear is that Biden saw it as his reputation as a Democrat that he could venture into places that others could not fade. As vice president, Biden was often sent to red states and conservative districts to campaign for vulnerable members of his party, often seen as more likable than his leader, Barack Obama.
Now, it’s the former president who appears to be the most sought-after Democrat for the nation’s marquee races. He held rallies in Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin over the weekend, and will visit Nevada and Arizona this week.
Biden and Obama will appear together next Saturday to bolster Senate and gubernatorial candidates in Pennsylvania — a place where Biden, who was born there, has been welcomed.
Compared to his predecessors, Biden has maintained a lighter campaign schedule. His event Tuesday night in Florida will be his first rally this month, compared to the 16 that then-President Obama held in October 2010 and the 26 that then-President Trump held in October 2018.
Biden has been in demand on the fundraising circuit, however, speaking at multiple dollar fundraisers nearly every week this fall to help the DNC raise a record total of $292 million through September. Democratic officials have credited Biden’s decision to share his presidential campaign list with the DNC early in his presidency with fueling a midterm record $155 million in grassroots fundraising.
On the event side, Biden scaled back the battleground state political rallies in favor of political speeches in Washington and official events where he called attention to his achievements – such as investments in infrastructure and manufacturing – and warned of the Republican alternative.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain suggested to CNN in October that the lack of large rallies was strategic: “I don’t think rallies have proven effective for the midterm candidates, and so we try something different,” he said. noting that the Obama and Trump models failed to stave losses for their respective parties.
But as Biden prepares to hold rallies this week in Florida, New Mexico, California and Pennsylvania, a senior Biden adviser said, “There is a time and a place for rallies.”
“When you get to the end of any election, demonstrations are a way to strengthen the base. Demonstrations are a way to get out the vote,” the senior councilor said.
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