Biden to Give Abortion-Focused Speech in Florida, Tying State Ban to Trump

0
17


President Biden is expected to condemn a six-week abortion ban that will soon take effect in Florida — and blame former President Donald J. Trump for its enactment — during a speech on Tuesday in Tampa.

The Biden campaign has made abortion one of its top issues, as polling shows it is one of the few subjects in which voters place more trust in Mr. Biden than Mr. Trump.

Florida has voted reliably for Republicans in recent elections but Mr. Biden’s team has expressed optimism that the state could be in play this year. They point to the fact that in November, Floridians will vote on a ballot initiative that would guarantee access to abortion “before viability,” or at about 24 weeks, and overturn the six-week ban.

While the vote could motivate liberal and independent voters to come to the polls, Mr. Biden would have to invest heavily in Florida to defeat Mr. Trump, which his campaign has not yet done.

“The idea that Donald Trump has the state in the bag could not be further from the truth,” said Michael Tyler, the Biden campaign’s communications director. “He owns not only the state of abortion rights across the country, but he owns the restriction that we’re seeing play out in Florida. And so yes, that means there’s an opportunity for us.”

Nationally, Democrats have been energized after an Arizona court upheld a near-total abortion ban in that state, arguing that it illustrates the stakes of electing Republicans. They have said that Mr. Trump is responsible for the restrictions in Florida, Arizona and other states that have imposed bans since Supreme Court justices appointed by the former president helped overturn Roe v. Wade. “Trump did this” has become a frequent messaging slogan from the Biden campaign.

Mr. Trump has criticized the bans in Florida and Arizona but also said that decisions about the legality of abortion should be left up to the states. He has said that he no longer supports a national abortion ban, reversing his previous position, and he has blamed Republican losses in recent elections on stringent anti-abortion positions.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida signed the six-week abortion ban last year as he courted right-wing voters in his failed bid for the Republican presidential nomination. The Florida Supreme Court upheld the ban this month. It goes into effect on May 1, one week after Mr. Biden’s speech in Tampa. Mr. DeSantis’s office declined to comment on the president’s visit to Florida.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a Democratic former congresswoman from Miami seeking to challenge Senator Rick Scott, a Republican, has been touring Florida to talk about abortion. The Biden campaign, she said, should not give up on the nation’s third-largest state.

“Florida is a purple state,” Ms. Mucarsel-Powell said. “It’s an independent state.”

Competing in Florida will be difficult for Democrats, even with abortion as a motivating factor. Mr. Trump handily carried the state in 2020. Mr. DeSantis won overwhelmingly in his re-election bid two years later. And the number of Republican voters in the state has skyrocketed since Mr. Trump entered politics. There are now nearly 900,000 more registered, active G.O.P. voters than Democrats, who for years had outnumbered Republicans.

The state is also extremely expensive to advertise in. Although the Biden campaign has a significant financial advantage over Mr. Trump’s operation, it has not spent heavily in Florida compared with the major battlegrounds. Campaign aides have been vague about how much they plan to spend in the state.

“The president is traveling there,” Mr. Tyler said when asked how much the campaign would invest in Florida. “We’ve got staff on the ground. You’ve seen our paid investments begin to pop up in the state of Florida. It is one of the pathways that we have to 270 electoral votes, and we’re going to take it very, very seriously.”

Democrats nationwide have had unexpected success protecting abortion rights at the ballot box since the demise of Roe, including in red states such as Kentucky, Kansas and Ohio.

But unlike many other states, Florida requires more than 60 percent support for amendments to pass. To reach that high threshold, supporters of the constitutional amendment need to appeal to a broad coalition of voters, including independents and Republicans.

“The focus right now cannot be on how this impacts electoral turnout,” said Lauren Brenzel, director of the Yes on 4, the main group supporting the amendment. “The focus is going to be on how this policy significantly harms and puts these women at risk.”

Alex Andrade, a Republican state representative who voted for the six-week ban, said Democrats were fooling themselves if they thought abortion was going to “fix things for them” after losing Florida in 2016 and 2020 and seeing Mr. DeSantis flip traditional Democratic strongholds like Miami-Dade County.

“Their political apparatus is clueless,” Mr. Andrade said.

Florida voters have approved liberal-leaning ballot questions in recent elections while also electing Republican politicians. But those successful initiatives — for medical marijuana, restoring felons’ voting rights and raising the minimum wage — have not faced the sort of organized opposition campaign that detractors of the abortion measure are expected to mount.

Among the opponents is Mr. DeSantis, who in recent public appearances has called the abortion measure too broad. Last week, he emphasized that it would overturn a state law requiring parents to consent before a minor child can have an abortion. The abortion measure explicitly leaves in place another provision in state law requiring parents to be notified of a minor child’s abortion.

“Notification is after the fact,” Mr. DeSantis said at an event in Hialeah Gardens, Fla. “To nuke parental consent for minors is totally unacceptable.”

Mr. Trump, a Florida resident, has not said how he will vote on the abortion referendum.



Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here