Joe Biden to return to Florida next week; first time in Sunshine State in more than a year

By: - September 23, 2022 2:58 pm

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – SEPTEMBER 01: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers a primetime speech at Independence National Historical Park September 1, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. President Biden spoke on “the continued battle for the Soul of the Nation.” (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images). Courtesy of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.

Boosted by a mild surge in national public opinion polls, Joe Biden is scheduled to make appearances in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando on Tuesday, his first time in the Sunshine State in more than a year.

While details about the events have been sparse, the White House says the president will discuss Social Security and Medicare in Fort Lauderdale, and that he’ll headline a Democratic National Committee rally for Florida Democratic candidates in Orlando.

The scheduled visits come as midterm elections loom, with the Nov. 8 election day about six weeks away.

What is known is that Biden will be joined in Orlando by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, but not with Congresswoman and U.S. Senate candidate Val Demings, whose congressional district includes parts of Orlando.

“Florida is on the front lines in the fight to protect women’s freedoms and preserve our democracy,” Crist told the Phoenix in a written statement. “President Biden knows that, which is why he is coming and why I’m proud to welcome him.”

A spokesperson for the Demings campaign told the Phoenix that she will be in Washington D.C. next week.

As is often the case when a president is struggling in his approval ratings, there has been a flood of published reports about other Democrats blowing off campaigning with Biden going into the November midterm election. “We have not asked President Biden or VP Harris to campaign in Ohio and have no plans to do so, a spokeswoman for Ohio Democratic Senate candidate Tim Ryan told the Washington Post last month.

“Demings laser focus on the statewide race appears to not want outside surrogates to interfere with her message and her advancement in the polls,” says Tara Newsom, a political science professor at St. Petersburg College. A USA Today/Suffolk University poll released this week shows Demings down four points to GOP incumbent Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate race, 45%-41%.

The Marco Rubio campaign issued a statement claiming that Demings is “hiding” from the president.

“Val Demings refuses to accept responsibility for the harm she’s caused Florida. Demings’ blind support of Joe Biden and the Democrats’ far left agenda 100% of the time has consistently made Floridians’ lives worse, and no hiding out in Washington is going to change that,” said Elizabeth Gregory, communications director for Marco Rubio for Senate.

The Republican Party of Florida and the Republican National Committee have seized on Crist’s stated public admiration for the president. The Republican Party of Florida flooded the airwaves immediately after Crist’s victory over Nikki Fried in the Democratic race for governor last month with an ad showing Crist saying, “Thank God for Joe Biden.”

“Charlie Crist’s priority is not Floridians. It’s getting a failed president, who can’t even find Florida on a map, to notice him,” said RNC spokeswoman Julia Friedland, linking to a tweet showing Biden misidentifying Senator Rick Scott as being from Wisconsin.

Biden’s public approval ratings nationally is at 43%, according to an average from RealClearPolitics. While still underwater, that’s up from a 37.7% RCP average that the president was at back in July.

That Suffolk University/USA Today poll released earlier this week showed Biden’s favorable numbers in Florida only at 40%, with 54% opposing him.

Biden has had to cancel his last two scheduled appearances in Florida this year, the last time back in July when he contracted COVID-19. One Democrat says he’s concerned that the weather could potentially affect next week’s events.

“I’m worried this hurricane will hit us Wednesday and that will affect the DNC meeting,” says Hillsborough County Democratic Party strategist Vic DiMaio.

Tropical Depression Nine formed in the Caribbean on Friday with a path that could bring it to Florida as a major hurricane sometime next week.

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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.