Presidential campaigns keep focus on Florida in home stretch of election

Posted at 11:46 PM, Oct 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-23 23:47:01-04

TAMPA, Fla. — While voters cast their ballots, presidential campaigns are keeping a focus on Florida in the home stretch of the election.

Friday, President Trump visited with rallies in the Villages and Pensacola. Saturday, former President Barack Obama is expected to campaign for former Vice President Joe Biden in Miami.

“Both parties know they gotta have Florida. Trump absolutely has to have Florida to win. Biden desperately wants it in case he has some problems with some other states,” said ABC Action News political analyst Dr. Susan MacManus. “This is the big prize. We have the most electoral college votes of any of the big swing states.”

MacManus said Florida is projected to be a toss-up right up until the end, so neither candidate can let up on the peddle here.

“Everything, everything comes down to which candidate and their party can get out the largest number of voters,” she said. “It’s easier to say you’re with somebody in a poll, it’s a lot different than to actually carry through and cast a ballot. So that’s why everything from now on to Election Day is going to be a mad rush in a lot of money and a lot of time spent on convincing people who have yet to cast their ballot to absolutely do so.”

Advisers for both the Biden and Trump campaigns said Florida is important and they think the campaigns are not taking anything for granted.

“We’re working super hard to earn the votes of Floridians. We did so last time so we’re confident that we’re going to repeat again, we believe we have a compelling message, particularly when it comes to the economy, but we’re taking nothing for granted, we’re not being complacent about it at all,” said Steve Cortes, a senior adviser for strategy to the Trump campaign.

“You’ve got a lot of people, never been involved in politics before, you’ve got a lot of Republicans and independents campaigning with Joe Biden a lot of retired generals have stood up and said that we need a strong national security leader and Joe Biden is that leader so I think the Biden campaign’s bringing a lot of people together,” said former congressman Jim Davis, an adviser to the Biden campaign.

Davis said there’s a lot of effort in introducing Biden as some people tune in to the end of the campaign.

“I think it’s an important time to hear Joe Biden’s plan to get the economy back on foot to finally get control of the COVID and I think we’re going to see him here in person but I think he’s going to do it in a responsible way because I think the President sets the example for the country and Joe Biden’s been very consistent he wants to earn people’s support and trust but he wants people to stay safe as well,” said Davis.

Cortes said the President believes it’s important they interact with people and believe they can do it safely.

“I believe one of the reasons that we’re going to prevail and win Florida and earn the votes of the citizens there is that because of the openness of Florida and because life is really returning with some speed back towards normalcy and I don’t mean just economic life, in all ways. School and sports, socializing, the mood in Florida is palpably positive and upbeat and I think it’s more likely that that Florida optimism is going to re-elect this president,” said Cortes.

We asked each adviser, what’s their pitch to Florida voters.

“Florida is leading the country as an example of how to safely smartly reopen. The economy is soaring in Florida it’s starting to soar in the country. To keep that momentum going and to accelerate that momentum, you need to rehire Donald Trump as the national CEO of the United States,” said Cortes.

“We need a president who truly cares about us, brings us together and helps us tackle these enormous challenges we’re facing with COVID, with equality, with an economy that creates opportunity for all of us and Joe Biden is that person,” said Davis.

So far, more than 4.7 million voters have cast their ballots either through vote by mail or early voting, according to data from the Florida Department of State. The data shows that includes more than 1.6 million Republicans, more than 2.1 million Democrats, nearly 57,000 of another party and more than 921,000 with no party affiliation.

MacManus said voters should expect more candidate visits, maybe new television ads, mailers, new ideas promoted and people coming together campaigning ahead of Election Day.

“This is a state that has a surge of Republican voters at the end historically probably Democrats too. And this is a state where winners only win by one percent. So with such an important state and the stakes of this election so high, and all the money being expended here and all of the candidate visits, there’s no better indication that Florida is critically important this election cycle than these things we just talked about,” said MacManus.

Saturday by 5 p.m. is the last chance to request a vote by mail ballot.