Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

Republicans make noise in Miami as Democrats gather for debates

Many prominent Republicans, chief among them Vice President Mike Pence, are expected to arrive in Miami this week to host fundraisers, launch the campaign’s national Latino coalition and stage rallies.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. [Photo by Sara D. Davis | Getty Images]
Published Jun. 24

TALLAHASSEE -- As Democrats converge on Miami this week for the first of the party’s 2020 presidential debates, the Republican Party is trying to counter their efforts to unseat President Donald Trump by rolling out a counter-message intended to hammer the presidential hopefuls.

Many prominent Republicans, chief among them Vice President Mike Pence, are expected to arrive in Miami this week to host fundraisers, launch the campaign’s national Latino coalition and stage rallies outside the debate venue. It’s an early reminder made nearly immutable by past elections: Florida may well decide the 2020 election by a thread.

Party officials intend to use the events this week to also tout low unemployment and the economy, as well as an aggressive stance against Cuba’s government and Venezuela under President Nicolás Maduro, to court Miami’s exile communities.

The day before the debates, Pence is traveling to Miami to launch a “Latinos for Trump” coalition with Lieutenant Gov. Jeanette Núñez, who is being named a national co-chair for the effort. The Federated Republican Women of North Dade group is staging a two-day “Rally for Americans Opposing the Wave of Socialism in the 2020 Presidential Campaign” outside the Arsht Center while the debates take place.

Nelson Diaz, chair of the Miami-Dade Republicans, said the events are also expected to include a small fundraiser Wednesday night with former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who has been promoting a book about his time working for Trump. Other Trump campaign officials, including campaign manager Brad Parscale, are also expected to appear in South Florida this week.

Trump has made no secret of his belief victory charts through Florida. He held his re-election announcement rally last week in Orlando, which sits along the state’s mercurial and politically decisive I-4 corridor, and all but asked the 20,000 attendees there to deliver a home-state advantage.

“I’m thrilled to be back in my second home,” he told them, citing his many stays at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach before he corrected himself.

“In many ways I think I could say it’s my first home,” he revised. “It’s the great state of Florida.”

Florida broke decisively for Trump in 2016, helping secure his win over Hillary Clinton. And even though the 2018 midterms signaled a wave of Democratic victories in other states, Republicans in some Florida races even improved on their 2016 margins. They held the governor’s mansion in a nationally watched race and flipped a U.S. Senate seat with former Gov. Rick Scott’s candidacy.

Democrats are trying to play defense against the Trump campaign’s courting of Hispanic and Latino voters, by pointing to Trump’s tax woes, his healthcare agenda and a host of immigration policies including the passage of a state ban on so-called “sanctuary cities” this year.

But they are still recovering from a weak effort in the 2018 midterms that ended in a more-lackluster-than-expected Hispanic turnout, with just 53% of the vote.

In Democratic-majority Miami-Dade, at least, an outright win for Trump among Hispanics, the county’s largest demographic group, is unlikely. Though Hispanic communities can vary widely in political alignment, they tend to lean blue. But Diaz said Republicans are more concerned with sapping Democrats’ advantage than wining a majority.

“You don’t need to win counties — it’s a race to win votes,” he added. “Our goal is to win the most votes, as many votes as we possibly can... If it wasn’t for Cuban-American votes DeSantis might not have won.”

State Sen. Joe Gruters, who chairs the Republican Party of Florida and was co-chair of Trump’s campaign in the state in 2016, added that Trump now has the benefit of the Republican party machine fully united behind him as the standard bearer, while Democrats have a protracted primary winnowing ahead.

“The Democrats are divided — they have 23 different candidates in the race,” he said. “On the Republican side, we’re united behind the president and the successes he’s been able to accomplish despite the headwinds against him…We’re putting together the ground forces to show we’ll be able to compete, building on the building blocks we’ve already created.”

Nor does it hurt that Florida’s new governor, Ron DeSantis, owes part of his primary win to Trump’s early and enthusiastic support. Gruters said the party is “Trump-centric and DeSantis-centric,” and argued that DeSantis — who is said to have his own presidential ambitions one day — will help deliver the state in November 2020.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Democratic presidential candidates from left, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., former technology executive Andrew Yang and investor Tom Steyer participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) JOHN BAZEMORE  |  AP
    Seventeen candidates remain in the race, but only 10 Democrats qualified to make it on stage in Atlanta for the fifth Democratic debate.
  2. Gov. Ron DeSantis and Barbara Lagoa, who is the first Hispanic nominated by President Donald Trump to be confirmed for a U.S. Court of Appeals vacancy out of 48 judges. Miami Herald
    “Trump’s already had five appointees to the court, it’s already a much more conservative court than before and it might be the second most conservative court in the country,” said one law professor.
  3. Democratic presidential candidate South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during the Iowa Democratic Party's Liberty and Justice Celebration, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik) NATI HARNIK  |  AP
    The latest Democratic debate, hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post, will take place amid impeachment hearings in Washington.
  4. FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 file photo, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi speaks to reporters outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, after meeting with President Donald Trump about about responses to school shootings. Bondi is preparing to defend Trump against accusations that he pressured a foreign government to aid his re-election campaign. And she’s stepping down from a lobbying where she represented foreign interests (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE  |  AP
    The special advisor to President Trump incorrectly stated Sondland’s role while appearing on national TV ahead of the EU ambassador’s testimony.
  5. On the left, NASA graphic of space junk in low Earth orbit. On the right, the view from further out. (NASA ODPO) NASA ODPO
    The U.S. Defense Department is tracking over 22,000 objects about the size of a softball or larger.
  6. Yesterday• Hillsborough
    U.S. Rep. Ross Spano, R- Dover, when he served in the Florida House in 2017, SCOTT KEELER  |  Times
    Spano has become a vociferous Trump defender and is comparing the investigation of his own 2018 campaign financing to the impeachment, which he calls a partisan sham.
  7. United States Air Force veteran Daniel Carmichael, of Inverness, shares his opinion before a meeting of the Board of County Commissioners of Citrus County on Tuesday, November 19, 2019, at the Citrus County Courthouse in Inverness, where the Citrus County Commission is expected to render a decision on whether to get digital subscriptions for the New York Times for all 70,000 of the county library cardholders. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes
    After two hours of debate, a motion to move forward with digital subscriptions for library cardholders fails 3-2.
  8. Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at pre-legislative news conference on Tuesday Oct. 29, 2019, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) STEVE CANNON  |  AP
    He’s got a new voucher proposal, as well.
  9. FILE - This March 28, 2017, file photo, provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry, shows Jeffrey Epstein. Two correctional officers responsible for guarding Jeffrey Epstein the night before he took his own life are expected to face criminal charges this week for falsifying prison records. That’s according to two people familiar with the matter. The federal charges could come as soon as Tuesday and are the first in connection with Epstein’s death.. (New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP, File) AP
    “The FBI is involved and they are looking at criminal enterprise, yes,” said the nation’s top prisons administrator to Senators on Tuesday.
  10. The David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts illuminated its new sign for the first time on Dec. 6, 2010. Times (2010)
    The historic donation that renamed the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center is still impacting Tampa Bay’s arts community.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement