DORAL, Florida (AP) — President Donald Trump tried on Friday to chip away at his Democratic rival's support among Hispanic voters in Florida, who could determine the election outcome in this crucial battleground state.
"Joe Biden betrayed Hispanic Americans and I'm fighting for you," Trump said at a "Latinos for Trump" roundtable at his golf club in Doral, where he spent the night after a rally in Jacksonville. It's part of a two-day campaign swing that is ticking off boxes, both geographically and with key constituencies.
Trump started his trip talking health care in North Carolina, where polls show him and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden effectively tied, and will end it with a rally Friday night in Newport News, Virginia. Biden is well ahead of Trump in the state, which the president lost by more than 5 percentage points in 2016. But the location is close to key North Carolina counties that are difficult for the president to visit, according to the campaign, because not all airports can accommodate Air Force One and its landing requirements.
Trump will also be visiting Atlanta on Friday for an event on black economic empowerment as he tries to chip away at Democrats' overwhelming advantage with African American voters in Georgia, another competitive state.
At the Atlanta event, Trump is to promote his plan to empower economic development among Black people. The idea is for the federal government to invest $50 billion in institutions that make loans to Black businesses — a move the Trump campaign says could increase access to capital in Black communities by almost $500 billion. The money would have to be approved by Congress.
Trump's so-called "platinum plan" also calls for grants to bankroll microlending and assist organizations to spur Black entrepreneurship. The plan also calls for expanding opportunity zones; designating the Ku Klux Klan and antifa as terrorist organizations; and designating Juneteenth a federal holiday. Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, is so named because June 19, 1865, is when slaves were freed in Galveston, Texas.
Trump's campaign, which has been struggling to make headway against Biden, is growing increasingly confident that his support is growing among Latinos, including in Florida, one of the most competitive 2020 battlegrounds, where elections are often won by a single percentage point.
An NBC-Marist poll of Florida voters released earlier this month found Latinos in the state about evenly divided between Biden and Trump — a major change from the same poll in 2016, when Democrat Hillary Clinton led Trump by a 59% to 36% margin. But a Monmouth University poll also conducted this month found Biden well ahead of Trump among Latino voters in the state, 58% to 32%.
Because of mounting concerns that Biden's standing is slipping, the campaign has embarked on an urgent effort to try to shore up support among older voters, suburbanites and African Americans to try to make up for losses elsewhere.
Hispanic voters in Florida tend to be somewhat more Republican-leaning than Hispanic voters nationwide because of the state's Cuban American population, which Trump worked to appeal to in his remarks.
Trump's rally in Jacksonville on Thursday night drew a crowd of thousands of supporters, most of whom stood shoulder-to-shoulder and largely eschewed masks, despite the ongoing pandemic that has now killed more than 200,000 people across the country, including more than 13,900 in Florida, according to the state.