MIAMI — Former president Barack Obama and “Despacito” singer Luis Fonsi held a closeout rally in South Florida on the eve of Election Day, rallying Latino voters in a critical battleground state where the two presidential candidates are in a dead heat.
Obama pushed back on the misleading messaging from Pres. Donald Trump and Republicans that cast Joe Biden as a socialist.
“You would think he was having coffee with Castro every morning,” said Obama.
He said Trump “has been coddling dictators for the last four years and now apparently he says he may declare victory before all the votes are counted tomorrow.”
“That’s not something that a leader of a democracy does,” said Obama. “If you believe in democracy you want every vote counted.”
Florida’s two-week early voting period ended Sunday. More registered Democrats have cast ballots so far than registered Republicans—over 108,000 more, according to figures from the Florida Division of Elections.
Florida, with 29 electoral votes, is usually won by razor thin margins. Obama won the state in 2012 by 74,000 votes and Trump carried it in 2016 by about 112,000.
Obama won the Florida Hispanic vote 60 percent to 39 percent. Since then, Latino eligible voters have grown to make up 17 percent of the state. But alliances have shifted since then. While Obama won the Cuban American vote, President Donald Trump’s deluge of messaging attacking Democrats as socialists has been effective in winning over that voter group. Trump has also won the backing of Venezuelan Americans, who are smaller in numbers, and has made inroads with Colombian Americans.
Health care is often cited as a top voting issue among Latinos, and Hispanic-heavy areas have large numbers of enrollees in the Affordable Care Act, which was rolled out by the Obama administration. Florida leads the country in health insurance enrollments through the ACA with more than 1.9 million sign-ups in 2020. Trump wants to repeal the ACA and Democrats are hoping this is dissuading Latino voters from voting for the president.
“So when Trump said he hopes the Supreme Court overturns the ACA, he is saying he wants to take away your healthcare,” Obama said, telling the crowd that 93 percent of Latino children were covered under Obamacare, also saying that Hispanics had lost coverage under Trump.
Obama also criticized Trump for his slow response to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria that ravaged the island in 2017 and referenced how he threw paper towels to Puerto Ricans at an aid center. Puerto Ricans make up an important voter group that lean Democratic but have lower voter turnout than other Hispanics in Florida.
“President Obama is here to live our campaign mantra of earning every single vote,” said Kevin Muñoz, Florida spokesperson for the Biden campaign.
Fonsi also accompanied Biden at the Democratic nominee's first appearance in Florida where he kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month.