KISSIMMEE, Fla. — It is often the most touted phrase in politics: To win the White House, you have to win Florida.
The Trump campaign is doubling down on efforts to win the president’s “adopted” home state with a series of in-person rallies and stops.
What You Need To Know
- Trump Reelection Bus Tour Stops in Kissimmee
- Campaign stop headlined by Eric Trump
- A few dozen supporters attended the rally
- Florida is considered a battleground state
Eric Trump, one of the president's sons, is leading a group of surrogates on a three-day bus tour this week, which kicked off Monday at the Osceola County Republican Headquarters in Kissimmee.
A few dozen supporters turned out for a rally headlined by Eric Trump, senior campaign adviser Corey Lewandowski, Florida Lt. Gov. Jeannette Nunez, and former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.
“In 2016, we had a candidate that made a lot of promises,” Lewandowski said. “Now we have a candidate who has made good on those promises.”
Lewandowski said the record for President Donald Trump that wins over supporters focuses on national security, immigration, and the economy.
It is a pitch that has to be fine-tuned specifically for Central Florida, where after the pandemic many families are struggling financially, and which is states away from a border wall but has a diverse population with immigrants from many countries.
“Florida is always going to be a battleground state,” Lewandowski said. “It’s a true representation of the whole country. What you have are pockets of minority populations.”
Lewandowski said Florida’s record shows its favor toward Republicans. With years of a Republican governor and now two sitting Republican U.S. senators, it’s a favoring Democrats are trying to change.
That effort begins with tackling the president’s record on immigration, the economy, and the response to the pandemic.
“We’re in a massive pandemic and the deepest recession in a decade, and President Trump is at the helm,” Congressman Darren Soto (D-Kissimmee) said. “It’s his refusal to take the pandemic seriously that led to over 160,000 Americans losing their lives, and 5 million Americans being diagnosed with coronavirus.”
Democrats have railed against Trump campaign efforts to hold in-person rallies and still carry out door-to-door contact. Democrats, for their part, have turned to phone banking and virtual events to increase support.
“We didn’t inflict this virus on our country, the Chinese inflicted this virus on the country,” Eric Trump said. “And you know what? Our country is coming roaring back.”
In Central Florida, however, where the scales of elections can tip either way, issues like affordable housing and wage equality have grown more critical as thousands still await unemployment benefits and a return to work.
When asked how President Trump and the campaign will speak to those people who remain in dire straits economically, Eric Trump said “…My father has created the greatest economy this country has ever seen by far, created the lowest unemployment.”
Over the weekend, President Trump signed an executive order and three memos, in an effort to defer payroll taxes and extend expired unemployment benefits. Members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, have said the president does not have the authority to make such moves.
Nearing a primary election in Florida, Republicans are also having to work to rebuild confidence among supporters for vote-by-mail. It is one of three ways to cast a ballot in Florida, which has allowed no- excuse voting by mail for years.
However, the president in recent months had broadly criticized voting by mail, calling it “corrupt” and “fraudulent.” In the past week, the President and his campaign have retooled messaging to carve out issues with voting by mail.
According to data from the Florida Department of State, Florida Republicans have cast more votes by mail in previous elections than Florida Democrats.