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Trump Campaign Courts Evangelicals, Dems Try To Sell Biden To Latinos In Battleground Florida

Donald Trump
Patrick Semansky/AP
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event with Florida Sheriffs in Tampa, Fla., Friday, July 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

With early voting in the primary underway, the Trump and Biden campaigns are sharpening their strategies in the key battleground state that is Florida.

Last week, President Donald Trump stopped in Tampa, giving a short speech to media flanked by local law enforcement officers.

“As long as I’m president, I will never defund your police, that I promise you,” Trump said, later posting a video clip of the Tampa appearance to Twitter.

The Trump campaign is trying to juxtapose itself to a Democratic party it’s painting as being against law and order, with the president repeatedly citing months’ worth of ongoing protests in places like Portland.

Wednesday in Tampa, Vice President Mike Pence addressed pro-life group the Susan B. Anthony list.

“Now more than ever, pro-life Americans need to let or voice be heard, and stand for life,” Pence said during his first campaign stop of the day.

The vice president touted Trump’s conservative judicial appointments since taking office.

“President Trump has appointed more conservatives to our courts of appeals than any president in American history. All told, 200 conservative judges appointed to our courts at every level,” Pence told the crowd, eliciting applause.

In an attempt to rip Trump’s opponent, Pence told the pro-life crowd the presumptive Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden would increase funding for organizations like Planned Parenthood.

“Joe Biden and the Democratic Party also wouldn’t defund the largest abortion provider in America, but they plan to increase funding for Planned Parenthood at unprecedented levels,” Pence said.

Biden has been sticking to mostly remote, on-camera interviews since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and he hasn’t visited Florida much in-person.

With Pence on their home turf, Florida Democrats virtually stumped for Biden Wednesday. The party hosted a Zoom call with various progressive religious leaders, who ripped the Trump administration as not being the champions for evangelicals they purport to be. Rev. Joe Parramore, with the group Faith in Public Life Action, was first to speak on the call.

“So let’s be clear: my faith is in stark contrast to the message of the Trump administration, that seeks the rise of Christian nationalism, that seeks to keep those on the margins suppressed and oppressed, and continues to seek ways of suppressing the vote in our country and our state,” Parramore said.

Meanwhile, Biden surrogates are trying to woo another powerful Florida voter bloc. Democratic state Senator Sen. Annette Taddeo, who held a video call with state and local officials from across Florida, heralding what they say is Biden’s strong advocacy for Latino communities.

“It’s just an honor to be with you, to talk about the Latino community, and to talk about p- I almost said President Biden – Vice President Biden’s Latino agenda,” Taddeo said.

That includes backing a $15 minimum wage, which Taddeo stressed on the call. She tied Biden’s support for raising the minimum wage into commentary on federal coronavirus aid that expired last week.

“Right now, we’re hearing people in congress – well, mainly in the Senate, saying that $600 is too much money,” Taddeo said. “Well, guess what? That’s why we need $15 an hour, because the reason they’re saying it’s too much money is because people are paid less than $15, and they’re saying they’re making more on unemployment.”

As both campaigns zero in on prospective voter groups in the Sunshine State, the Trump campaign in recent days cancelled the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville. Biden, on Wednesday, announced he will not travel to accept his party’s nomination at a virtual convention in Milwaukee. Rather, Biden will give a speech in Delaware, where he lives.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.