Kamala Harris courts all types of potential Biden voters in first Miami visit

MIAMI – Kamala Harris’ first visit to Miami as Joe Biden’s runner-up was an attempt to engage a large group of voters who haven’t seen the Democratic ticket in the state in nearly a year.

On Thursday, Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff managed to meet with non-Cuban Hispanics, black voters, college graduates and Jewish voters across Miami-Dade County in six hours. You have courted a diverse group of voters with vastly different political preferences and values ​​- which are also vital to Biden’s hopes in Florida, as polls show an intensified race two months before election day.

Harris began her journey with an unannounced stop in Doral, home to Miami’s largest concentration of Venezuelans. Then she went to Miami Gardens, Florida’s largest black-majority city, to speak to college students and community leaders. At the same time, Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, was in Aventura courting Jewish voters.

Unlike President Donald Trump, who is betting that his appeal to white voters and Cuban Americans will exaggerate him in Florida, Biden’s victorious coalition is far more diverse.

While Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and the campaigner’s top officials have been visiting the state in the past few weeks, Biden was last in Florida almost a year ago. Harris has not held an election rally in the state since the first Democratic primary debate in June 2019, when she was running for president. Biden plans to visit Florida next week, but details have not yet been released.

Democratic State Senator Annette Taddeo said it was important for Harris to visit Doral, a long-standing hangout for Republicans and a town full of non-Cuban Hispanic voters. Colombian-American Taddeo greeted Harris at Amaize, a Venezuelan fast-casual restaurant in a mall just blocks from President Donald Trump’s golf resort.

“That was really important. A big step, ”said Taddeo about the visit to Amaize. “I love the fact that it was more South American than the traditional 305 stops,” a reference to Miami’s 305 area code.

Taddeo said the Biden campaign “gets our message” and that the campaign understands its “growth opportunity” with non-Cuban Hispanic voters.

One of those voters in the restaurant on Thursday was Melissa Breda, who was born in Italy to Venezuelan parents.

“I really have a feeling that a lot of people are shy about saying that they are not for Trump,” said Breda.

After ordering tequeños, a Venezuelan cheese stick and a chicken and cheese-filled arepa, grilled corn cake, Harris drove 15 miles north to Miami Gardens, where the Florida Memorial University Roar Marching Band played them with three songs in front of a forum with Black Community greeted guides in South Florida.

“They will push us to be our best selves,” Harris told the students. “They will inspire us to fight for the ideals of our country that have not yet been achieved.”

Harris, who if elected would be the first black woman and Caribbean American to become vice president, was introduced to Florida Memorial University by Democratic MP Frederica Wilson, an early Harris supporter.

“Black women have supported this nation, this race, this Democratic Party since we landed on this continent,” said Wilson. “And if you’re about to be the first black Caribbean vice president, I’m Bahamian, that means so much.”

Wilson joked that she plans to walk around with voter records after the 2020 election to make sure everyone she meets turns up, a nod to her heavily Democratic district, which voted for Trump at a slightly higher rate in 2016 as Mitt Romney in 2012. The changes in Wilson’s majority black congressional district, minor as they are, contributed to Trump’s victory in 2016.

Harris began speaking to the Black Community, highlighting Trump’s comments on the COVID-19 pandemic. She brought up Trump’s remarks to journalist Bob Woodward at the start of the pandemic in February when Trump said “I always wanted to downplay it” while acknowledging that COVID-19 was far more deadly than the flu and is spread via the flu could air.

“What we are hearing is that the President and Vice President were briefed on January 28th of the impending and dangers of COVID-19,” Harris said. “On February 7th, the President of the United States, who has the unique and very special responsibility for the safety of the American people, was in a conversation saying that COVID was deadly stuff and that it was in the air. He knew it was in the air, that people would breathe it. “

Harris’ message comes as Florida’s COVID-19 hospital data reveals the disease’s disproportionate impact on black residents.

While blacks make up 17 percent of Florida’s population and 16 percent of COVID-19 cases in Florida, they make up 24 percent of nationwide hospital stays for the disease, according to Thursday’s Florida Department of Health report.

Blacks with COVID-19 were also more likely to be hospitalized than non-Hispanic whites.

According to the latest health department report, 9.7 percent of all black residents across the state were hospitalized with a confirmed case for the disease, compared with 8.7 percent of all white residents with a confirmed case.

At the county level, the differences in South Florida are even greater, according to the Department of Health report.

In Broward, black residents with COVID-19 were hospitalized at a rate of 11.5 percent, compared to those classified as “others” (6.2 percent) and white residents (8.2 percent). Black Miami-Dade residents with a confirmed case of COVID-19 also had the highest hospitalization rates at 10.3 percent compared to their white counterparts (7.8 percent) and those classified as “other” races (3, 2 percent).

The death rate for COVID-19 is also disproportionately high among black residents of Miami-Dade, the county with the highest number of confirmed cases of the disease in Florida. In Miami-Dade, African Americans who tested positive for COVID-19 have died at the rate of 3.5 percent, compared with a rate of 2.9 percent for white residents and 0.5 percent for people whose state of health indicates their race classified as “other” on Thursday is department report.

Dr. Jaffus Hardrick, president of Florida Memorial University, also argued that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities between historically black colleges and universities and their majority white counterparts.

“One of the things we quickly discovered was that the digital divide was even greater,” Hardrick told Harris, a graduate of Howard University, one of the top HBCU universities in the country. “We found that there were so many of our students who didn’t even have computers. I think we all know the pandemic has affected us in ways we cannot imagine. “

The pandemic was also in the foreground at an event with Jewish voters in Aventura with Emhoff.

“Bottom line, this president lied,” said Emhoff at his first one-on-one campaign event with local rabbis and Jewish Democrats, including US Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Miami Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, who is running for mayor of Miami-Dade . “He knew what was going on with COVID. As a result, more than 190,000 of our fellow Americans are now dead. “

Emhoff called Florida his “home away from home” and noted that he spent time in Miami Beach with his grandmother, who retired there. He also made reference to his Jewish identity, bar mitzvah, and how he attended a Jewish summer camp.

“This entire campaign is based on the same Jewish values ​​that we talked about before,” said Emhoff. “Above all, a commitment to justice for all.”

While Harris and Emhoff were fighting in Miami-Dade County, Republicans held their own event in Hialeah to strengthen their base of Cuban-American support. Lt. Governor Jeanette Núñez and Senator Manny Diaz spoke to a group of retired police officers, all of whom were Cubans. The group insisted that Trump was “the only option on the ticket”.

“The radical left is trying to deprive law enforcement agencies of the tools and resources necessary to uphold the rule of law and even advocate defusing the police, which I find extremely worrying,” said Nunez after calling Harris “the radical senator from California.” would have. ”

But at the same time that some Republicans were beating up Harris, another well-known anti-Trump Republican was there to greet them in Doral.

CNN commentator Ana Navarro, a Republican from Nicaragua and a Biden supporter who hosted Latino roundtables for the campaign in Florida and Wisconsin, held out her hands in a socially distant version of a hug when Harris arrived in Amaize.

Harris dropped a few words in Spanish during her restaurant visit. She introduced Emhoff as “mi esposo”, Spanish for “my husband”.

And when she was greeted, she replied, “Gracias. Nice to be here. “

Miami Herald staff Daniel Chang and El Nuevo Herald staff Ana Claudia Chacin contributed to this report.

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