Trump Courts Cuban-Americans in Bid for Crucial Florida Vote

Donald Trump made an appeal to Cuban-Americans on Wednesday as polls showed him in a dead heat with Joe Biden in Florida, a crucial state for the president’s hopes for re-election.

Trump spoke at the White House Wednesday morning “in honor of Bay of Pigs Veterans,” referring to the failed U.S.-backed attempt nearly 60 years ago to oust the government of Fidel Castro. The president announced fresh sanctions targeting alcohol and tobacco from Cuba as well as hotels controlled by the Cuban government or its officials.

The event came as Trump and Biden remain neck-and-neck in Florida. An ABC News-Washington Post poll released Wednesday showed Trump leading 51%-47% among likely voters, but Biden leading 48%-47% among registered voters. Biden has an average lead in Florida polls of about 1.5 percentage points, according to RealClearPolitics.

Trump’s move to solidify his support with Cuban-Americans could have limited impact. The older voter bloc has seen its influence wane as demographics in Florida, once a Republican stronghold, shift.

Hispanic voters broadly are crucial to Trump’s re-election, and he has courted them by repeatedly criticizing Cuba and the regime of Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro. A poll this week by the Wall Street Journal, NBC and Telemundo found that 62% of registered Latino voters back Biden, compared to 26% for Trump. That’s largely in line with the split during the 2016 election.

Trump linked socialist regimes to protests around the U.S. that were sparked by racial unrest and police brutality against Black Americans.

“We reaffirm our ironclad solidarity with the Cuban people, and our eternal conviction that freedom will prevail over the sinister forces of communism and evil of many different forms,” Trump said. “The courageous veterans here today bear witness to how socialism, radical mobs and violent communists ruin a nation. Now, the Democrat Party is unleashing right within our own beautiful country.”

More than 20 veterans of the effort joined Trump at the White House for the event.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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