President Joe Biden addressing a Democratic Party rally at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens on Nov. 1 (photo by Mitch Perry)
All the numbers are going in the wrong direction for Florida Democrats as the Nov. 8 midterm election looms, but with President Joe Biden making his first campaign appearance in the Sunshine State since becoming president, party members rallied Tuesday night in Miami-Dade County with the hope that Charlie Crist and Val Demings could shock the pundits next week and win their respective bids for governor and U.S. Senate.
“Folks, imagine Chief Demings on the beat in the United States Senate,” Biden said to cheers from the crowd who gathered in the gymnasium of Florida Memorial University, the only historic black college in Miami-Dade County. “I can hardly wait. They ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”
Demings, the 65-year-old third term Congresswoman from Orlando, is trailing in every major poll to Republican incumbent Marco Rubio in the race for U.S. Senate. And most polls have Crist, making his third bid for governor and second as a Democrat, even further behind in his battle to upset Ron DeSantis.
“Seven days until the most important election of our lifetime,” said Biden, using a phrase that was mentioned frequently during the three-hour plus rally that began at 5:20 p.m.
Biden said the midterm next week is not a referendum (on him), but a choice between two vastly different visions for America. “Folks, this is not your father’s Republican Party. This is a different breed of cat,” he said at one point.
The president bashed congressional Republicans throughout his speech, giving a few minutes as expected to knock Florida U.S. Sen. Rick Scott. Scott is not on the ballot this fall, but as the head of the National Senate Republican Committee, he has sparked Biden’s ire with his 11-point plan to “sunset” all federal legislation including Social Security and Medicare every five years. (Scott says he has no intention on eliminating those programs).
Although the issue of inflation may be the single biggest issue that will could drag down Democrats in next week’s election, Biden boasted about his economic record, including what he said were 10 million jobs that have been created during his less than two years in office.
“Unemployment is down from 6.1 to 3.5 percent, the lowest in 50 years,” he hailed.
The president also called out the oil companies, Shell and Exxon Mobil, for their recent announced profits. Several of the top energy companies have recently posed another series of high quarterly profits, benefiting from natural gas and fuel prices that have pushed inflation around the world.
“It’s outrageous,” he said. “Yesterday I made it clear that the industry has a choice: either begin to invest in America, or pay higher taxes.”
The president spoke for about 35 minutes and acknowledged at one point that he was shouting to the crowd. It was a rare rally for Biden this election cycle, where his personal approval rating in Florida is in the low 40s, according to a Mason-Dixon poll conducted early last month.
Former President Donald Trump held 26 rallies in October 2018. Barack Obama held 16 campaign rallies in October 2010, even though his approval rating was about close to what Biden’s is now, according to the New York Times. But only now in the last week before the midterms is Biden hitting the road for campaign rallies.
In his speech, Crist said that despite the polls showing him trailing DeSantis, he still has a shot at defeating the Republican governor.
“We can stop him. Right here. Right now. And when we win, we will send shockwaves across America,” he said.
Demings, who took to the stage as Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” played behind her, followed Crist and attacked Rubio for his anti-abortion stance.
“I stand before you tonight as someone who investigated cases of rape and incest,” she said, alluding to her years as a police officer and police chief for the city of Orlando. “A lot of rapists are behind bars right now because of my 27 years at the police department.”
Other speakers included U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick and Frederica Wilson. State Reps. Shevrin Jones, Democratic National Committee Chair Jamie Harrison and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.
Republican Party officials blasted the event and the Democrats prospects in next week’s election.
“Florida Democrats rubberstamped Joe Biden and his disastrous agenda every step of the way, so there’s no better way for them to spend their final week than campaigning by his side,” said Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel in written statement. “Everything Biden touches becomes a disaster, and Democrats’ midterm prospects are no different.”
“Charlie Crist is once again showing Floridians just how clueless and out-of-touch he really is,” added Republican Governors Association spokeswoman Joanna Rodriguez in a statement. “Joe Biden’s and Crist’s failed policies in Washington landed the country in the financial mess we are in with record-high inflation and a dependence on foreign oil that threatens our economy and national security.”
“Thanks to Val Demings’ record of voting for Biden’s far-left agenda 100% of the time, Americans are worse off than they were two years ago, and they have the Biden administration and Democrat-controlled Washington to blame,” added Marco Rubio spokesperson Elizabeth Gregory.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.