(Bloomberg) -- Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden sought Tuesday to shore up support among Latino voters in Florida as Democrats worry the crucial voting bloc is drifting away from him.
Biden began his trip with a veterans roundtable in Tampa as his campaign is hoping to close the margins among veterans, who usually lean Republican, after The Atlantic reported Trump denigrated war dead as “losers” and “suckers.”
“Our military is the greatest fighting force in the history of the world,” Biden said. “They deserve better than what goes on with the commander in chief.”
Biden plans to hold a Hispanic Heritage Month event in Kissimmee Tuesday evening.
A Monmouth poll released Tuesday found Biden leading President Donald Trump 50% to 45% among Florida registered voters. The survey also showed that Latino voters in the state favor Biden 58% to 32%, but a NBC News-Marist poll last week found Trump made significant strides in Latino support, with an edge of 50% to Biden’s 46%.
Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the state by just over 1 percentage point in 2016. Clinton overwhelmingly won support from Latino voters — 62% to 35%, according to exit polls — but Democrats are concerned about Trump’s inroads there, particularly with Cuban-Americans, who lean Republican. Democrats say they hope Biden can make up ground with non-Cuban Hispanics, who typically lean more toward Democrats.
The tightening of the race comes after Biden had a significant lead in Florida during the summer, including a mid-July Quinnipiac poll that had the former vice president ahead of Trump by 13 percentage points.
After a speech on climate change on Monday in Wilmington, Biden was asked about the focus of his trip to Florida.
“I’ll talk about how I am going to work like the devil to make sure I turn every Latino and Hispanic vote,” Biden said.
The Monmouth poll showed Trump leading Biden 50% to 46% among military or veteran households, which account for more than one-third of the state’s voters. The president won those voters by double digits in 2016.
A recent court ruling may have added to Biden’s challenges in Florida — a federal appeals court ruled that former felons, who secured the right to vote in 2018, have to first pay all their court fees before being allowed to cast a ballot. More than 774,00 convicted felons, who lean Democratic, owe legal fees.
Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, traveled to Miami last week with her husband, Doug Emhoff, picking up arepas at a Venezuelan restaurant in Doral before Harris visited Florida Memorial University for a discussion on the challenges facing the Black community in South Florida. Emhoff, who is Jewish, attended a roundtable with rabbis at a synagogue in Aventura.
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