A candidate for city council in the Miami suburb of Hialeah used Donald Trump’s image on campaign signs. At a polling station this week, many people wore red “Make America Great Again” hats or drove pickup trucks with flags bearing the former president’s name.
Outside the venue where the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination will speak on Wednesday, seeking to outshine his rivals debating a half-hour’s drive away, supporters camped out more than a day in advance, waving to honking commuters, who came by.
Hialeah is an important part of South Florida’s highly influential Cuban-American community. It’s all for Trump.
“All we want is to get ahead in life. It seems like a lot of politicians are just putting obstacles in our way,” said Marcel Perez, a Hialeah resident who went to the polls Tuesday with his wife, mother, uncle and father-in-law. “Trump is the right person for the job because he opens the door for us.”
Cuban voters in this region helped deliver overwhelming victories to Trump and other Republicans in recent elections and fueled Florida’s realignment from a traditional swing state to a far more conservative state. Democrats pushing to re-elect President Joe Biden are seeking to win back some of the Latino vote and held a news conference ahead of the GOP debate and Trump’s rally.
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Trump’s campaign is using his event to demonstrate his strength for 2024 and to spread the message that the five candidates debating in Miami are irrelevant given his commanding lead in the polls. He will be joined at the event by Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who served as his White House press secretary.
Chris LaCivita, a senior Trump adviser, said the campaign will try to win an increasing percentage of the Hispanic vote in 2024. Trump did better among Hispanics in 2020 than in 2016, even as Biden won the majority nationwide.
For Biden, LaCivita argued, what “was emerging as a problem” has now become “a full-blown crisis … which I think gives President Trump an opportunity to really increase his standing and vote share in the Hispanic community.” “
Trump’s campaign plans primary advertising on Hispanic television and radio as well as targeted emails. With a general election and a likely rematch with Biden, Trump’s advisers expect his messages on the economy, the U.S.-Mexico border and cultural issues will resonate with Latinos.
Former President Trump’s third Republican presidential debate and rally are happening right here in South Florida. So if you’re commuting around the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami or Hialeah, there may be delays and road closures in the area.
“From the Trump campaign’s perspective in the general election, we will aggressively fight for votes everywhere. “We will compete for votes everywhere,” he said. “We are extremely optimistic that we have a receptive audience.”
Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Biden’s campaign manager, held a news conference in downtown Miami on Tuesday to tout the reelection effort’s work with Latinos. The Biden campaign has run ads in English, Spanish and Spanglish, combining words from both languages, as many Hispanics do in the United States.
“Latinos continue to overwhelmingly support Democrats,” Chavez Rodriguez said. “However, we don’t take any of this for granted.”
According to the most recent census figures, more than 95% of Hialeah’s 220,000 residents identify as Hispanic or Latino. Most are Cuban or Cuban-American and speak Spanish at home.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis last year became the first Republican in 20 years to win Miami-Dade County, which includes Hialeah, achieving a landslide re-election victory.
Data from AP VoteCast, a comprehensive survey of the national electorate, found that more than half of Latino voters in the state supported DeSantis for governor in 2022 and a similar number supported Republican incumbent Marco Rubio in this year’s Senate race. The total for all candidates was higher than the 45% of Latinos who supported Trump for president in 2020.
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Voting with his family in Hialeah, Perez praised DeSantis for opposing COVID-19 vaccination mandates and lockdowns, a stance that is a central part of the governor’s presidential campaign. But the 41-year-old suggested that DeSantis had “sacado las uñas,” a Spanish expression that means someone has “taken out their fingernails” or become overly aggressive.
Trump has long courted the Cuban community, which leans more toward Republicans than other Hispanics. According to Pew, a majority of Cuban American voters, 58%, identified as Republican or Republican-leaning voters before the 2020 election.
At the White House, Trump pushed to reverse President Barack Obama’s Cuba engagement policy and sanctioned socialist governments in Latin America. As he runs again, Trump is stepping up his efforts to portray Democrats as Marxists, socialists and communists – language that could resonate with Cuban and Venezuelan exiles who have fled poverty and political persecution.
After Trump appeared in federal court in Miami in June and pleaded not guilty to dozens of felony charges, accusing him of hoarding classified documents and defying government demands to return them, he headed to Versailles, a famous Cuban restaurant, cafe and bakery in the Little Havana district, which is a popular stop for politicians visiting Miami.
Trump was cheered on by waiting supporters and later was serenaded with “Happy Birthday” and a rabbi prayed over it, a day before his 77th birthday.
Kevin Marino Cabrera, a Miami-Dade County commissioner who will speak at Wednesday’s rally, said Trump is “taking his message directly to voters, while the other candidates are in a room full of campaign staff and media discussing a possible vice presidential nomination or debate a possible vice presidential nomination. Job in a Trump administration.”
Unlike a debate audience whose loyalties are divided among candidates, Trump is expected to attract a boisterous audience that is uniformly supportive.
“It’s not a polite audience. It’s loud and celebratory,” said Dario Moreno, a political science professor at Florida International University. “He will outshine these people in the debate.”