Biden to visit Florida to court Hispanic vote

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WILMINGTON, Del. — Joe Biden is making his first trip to Florida as the Democratic presidential nominee.

On Tuesday, the former vice president will hold a roundtable with veterans in Tampa before marking Hispanic Heritage Month with an event in Kissimmee near Orlando. Hispanics make up one-fifth of eligible voters in Florida.

“I will talk about how I am going to work like the devil to make sure I turn every Latino and Hispanic vote,” Biden said after a Monday speech.

Biden, who hasn’t been to Florida since last October, has struggles with Latinos that stem in part from the policies of the Obama administration. The former vice president said during the Democratic primary that he regretted the record-setting number of deportations when President Barack Obama was in the White House.

And, unlike his Democratic rival Bernie Sanders, who used strong support among Latinos to notch key primary victories in Nevada and California, Biden has refused to adopt decriminalizing illegal crossings of the U.S.-Mexico border and halting all deportations.

Trump has gained support among Latinos in the country legally for opposition of illegal immigration, to his embrace of religious positions regarding abortion, and his warnings of protest-related violence and socialism.

Biden claimed Monday that overall his ratings with Latinos were “much higher” than Trump’s, “but they gotta go higher.”

Trump has maintained an aggressive Hispanic outreach program for more than a year. That has succeeded in attracting the support of some Hispanics who have been swayed by the president’s encouragement of business.

Trump also has continued to enjoy support among ardent anti-communists, especially Cuban Americans.

In a further effort to promote Biden, Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny and Mexican singer Alejandro Fernandez have recorded ads decrying Trump with songs in Spanish. Those are airing in Arizona, Pennsylvania and Florida, where Tampa and Orlando have large Puerto Rican communities.

—AP-stories contributed to this report.

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