Biden visits Florida to shore up support among critical Hispanic voters

(Reuters) – Democrat Joe Biden on Tuesday will make his first campaign visit of the year to Florida, where opinion polls show a tight race against President Donald Trump amid signs of lagging support for Biden among the battleground state’s crucial Hispanic voters.

With less than 50 days until the Nov. 3 election, the Biden campaign is trying to overcome concerns about enthusiasm among Florida Latinos, as well as a disinformation campaign that has tried to paint the moderate Democratic nominee as a socialist.

A recent NBC News/Marist poll showed the two White House contenders in a dead heat in Florida and Trump with a 4-point edge over Biden among the state’s Latinos – a group Democrat Hillary Clinton won by 27 percentage points in 2016, according to exit polls. Other polls have shown Biden leading among state Hispanics but still trailing Clinton’s support.

Trump won Florida over Clinton by just 1.2 percentage points, which helped propel him to the White House. His inroads with Florida Hispanics have been fueled by his strength with conservative Cuban Americans, a Republican-leaning bloc he has courted throughout his presidency.

“Clearly, there has been some hemorrhaging of Hispanic support going on, mainly Cuban Americans,” said Democratic state Senator Annette Taddeo, a Colombian American. “The Republicans have worked really, really hard, and they have been constantly present.”

The steady drumbeat of Republican attacks on Biden, the vice president under Barack Obama, as a socialist has also taken a toll, Florida Democrats said. The Republican convention last month featured a Cuban-born Florida businessman, Maximo Alvarez, who compared Biden’s agenda to the promises of Fidel Castro’s Communist rule.

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