MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — President Joe Biden on Tuesday lashed out at Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as “Donald Trump incarnate,” focusing on a potential 2024 GOP presidential candidate as he was campaigning for Democrats facing tough fights in next week’s midterm election.
In a final week sprint for Democrats ahead of Election Day, Biden will campaign in New Mexico on Thursday, California on Friday and Pennsylvania on Saturday. By many accounts, Democratic control of Congress and several state houses is in jeopardy, and Biden is trying to stem that tide.
In Florida, a state known to be popular with retirees, he focused on federal programs for the elderly and those less well-off. He said the current crop of GOP candidates “isn’t your dad’s Republican party” and said he prayed for God to deliver “clarification” to his opponents.
After those remarks in Hallandale Beach, he headlined a fundraiser for gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist in Golden Beach. He capped off his day in Florida with a rally at Florida Memorial University, a historically black university, for the state’s Democratic Party, including Crist and Senate candidate Val Demings.
At the event for Crist, Biden made the personal stakes against DeSantis, a major White House opponent of Biden. Biden suggested DeSantis was just another version of former President Trump and criticized him for “demonizing the LGBTQ population.”
“For me, this is one of the most important races in the country,” Biden said. “Charlie runs against Donald Trump incarnate.”
Crist noted that DeSantis would not commit during a gubernatorial debate last week to serving his full four-year term if re-elected.
“Governor DeSantis only cares about the White House, he doesn’t care about your house,” Crist told the audience.
The president’s scathing attacks on DeSantis stood in stark contrast to their cordial encounter earlier in October when Biden traveled to Florida to view the devastation wrought by Hurricane Ian. In front of the cameras, Biden said DeSantis was doing a “good job” managing the recovery from the storm. The Republican governor officially welcomed Biden to his state and praised the collaboration between officials on the ground and the federal government in Washington.
But on Tuesday in Florida, Biden shot DeSantis.
At one point, during his evening remarks at the Florida Memorial, Biden recalled that Crist – who had previously served as governor from 2007 to 2011 as a Republican – “was a great governor before and will make an even greater governor again. because of who he goes. To replace. »
Minutes later, Biden noted that the nearby port of Miami had recently received a $16 million federal grant because of one of its biggest legislative victories: the $1 trillion infrastructure legislation. He then pivoted to DeSantis.
“I’m sure your governor will take credit for it somewhere along the line,” Biden said.
The president also blasted Republicans who have come to light on the attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He asked how such a political onslaught could happen and “no one in this party is condemning it for exactly what it is.”
In Hallandale Beach, he hit out at Demings’ Senate Republican opponent, incumbent Marco Rubio, for failing to support his Cut Inflation Act, passed in August by the Democratic-led Congress.
It includes several health care provisions popular among the elderly and less well-off, including a $2,000 cap on out-of-pocket medical expenses and a $35 per month cap per insulin prescription. It forces companies that raise prices faster than overall inflation to pay a rebate to Medicare.
“Not a single Republican voted for this in the United States Senate,” Biden told a crowd at a community center in Hallandale Beach. “Every lone Republican in Congress voted against these savings, including Senator Rubio.”
Biden’s appearances with Crist and Demings came after some of the Democrats’ most beleaguered candidates, including Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock and Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly, opted out of appearing with him.
Still, the president’s advisers insist he can be helpful in talking about GOP policies they deem objectionable to voters.
Meanwhile, Republicans are optimistic about their prospects across Florida as voter registration trends and changing demographics suggest the state will continue to shift to the right.
Democrats are particularly concerned about the trend in Miami-Dade County, home to 1.5 million voting-age Hispanics. It’s been a Democratic stronghold for 20 years, but the GOP made significant gains in the last presidential election. Republicans, including Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez, predict the region will turn red on Nov. 8.
If the Democrats lose Miami-Dade, it could virtually eliminate their path to victory in Florida statewide contests, including presidential elections, in the future.
Biden seized on Florida Sen. Rick Scott’s February proposal to end all federal laws after five years, which the president said would force Congress to reauthorize Medicare and Social Security, as hallmarks of what he called the “ultra-MAGA” agenda that Democrats are running against.
Biden, who often ends his speech by asking, “God save our troops,” offered a salty addendum with his Hallandale Beach remarks.
“God, enlighten some of our Republican friends,” Biden said.
Associated Press national political writer Steve Peoples in New York contributed to this story.
Follow AP coverage of the 2022 midterm elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections