Hours before Donald Trump was scheduled to appear before a large crowd in Orlando to officially kick off his 2020 reelection campaign, Florida Democrats held a media briefing where they mostly discussed health care, the key issue that the national party believes helped them win 40 seats in the House of Representatives in the 2018 election midterm.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez says the party intends to run a positive agenda that won’t be dominated by criticizing what Trump has done as president.
But a year ago, the state’s Democratic candidate for governor, Andrew Gillum, was put on defense early in his race against Ron DeSantis, who accused him of touting “socialist” policies. Trump himself accused Gillum of being a socialist, with the message intended for South Florida Hispanic voters wary of what that term means in places like Cuba and Venezuela.
Perez says the Democrats won’t fall for what he calls “the oldest trick in the book.”
“When Democrats fought for and enacted Social Security in the ‘30s, the minimum wage a few years later, Medicaid and Medicare in the ‘60s, and the Affordable Care Act just a decade ago, what they all had in common was Republican opponents called those socialism,” he replied. “They are not socialism. They are what makes capitalism work. They are the guardrails that make capitalism work. They are what makes capitalism inclusive for everybody and so the American people were smart in 2018, and they will be smart again in 2020.”
Noting alleged internal polls that show Trump currently losing in Florida and other crucial battleground states against top Democratic candidates for president, Central Florida Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto said the president was the one should be on the defensive.
“If he really wants to help out in stopping socialism, how about passing my bill that would give temporary protected status to Venezuelans fleeing a socialist dictatorship? That would really help out in combating socialism,” he said.
Soto and Miami Republican U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart are co-sponsors of a bill that would extend temporary protected status to Venezuelan nationals in light of the presidential crisis the overall conditions in the country.
The Democrats denounced Trump for trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act and taking away provisions that require health insurers to cover people who have pre-existing conditions.Trump told ABC News on Sunday that his administration will unveil “something terrific” to overhaul the nation’s health care system within the next month because “Obamacare has been a disaster.”
“Donald Trump is a threat to the livelihoods of thousands of Floridians and must not be given a second term,” warned U.S. Rep. Val Demings from Orlando. “Donald Trump’s obsession with gutting (health care) protections is not only reckless, it’s dangerous,” she said, adding that the public doesn’t want to return to the days “when insurance companies could charge patients as much as they wanted, to cover as little as possible when premiums skyrocketed.”
POLITICO is reporting that Trump campaign’s reelection effort in Florida intends to introduce a new Latino outreach initiative.
Soto, the first Congressman of Puerto Rican descent elected from Florida, blasted Trump for having the “audacity” to begin his reelection campaign from Central Florida, saying he is no friend of the Puerto Rican community in Florida – or to the island itself.
“We’ve all witnessed the words and actions that Trump has levied against my fellow Puerto Ricans from managing the worst disaster response in modern history, with nearly 3,000 people dying,” he said. “The longest blackout in modern history, and of course, we can’t forget the images of him showing up in San Juan after the hurricane, and casually tossing paper towels to the victims of this terrible disaster.”
A crowd of around 20,000 is expected to attend Tuesday night’s rally at the Amway Center in Orlando is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. At 5 p.m., a group of counter demonstrators is expected to protest at the Stonewall Bar just a few blocks away. Organizers say they expect 5,000 – 7,000 to attend that event.