Rev. Samuel Rodriguez: Biden vs. Trump — Why Latinos in Florida are turning to Trump

‘Great strategy’ for Biden to campaign in right-leaning states: Brazile

Donna Brazile weighs in on the final stretch of the presidential race.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is suffering from a major Latino-induced headache ahead of the election.

As expected, Biden is leading President Trump with Latino voters nationally, but he is seriously underperforming Hillary Clinton’s support among the community in 2016.

This is of particular concern in Florida, a key battleground state where Latinos represent 20% of the electorate.

In 2016, Clinton won 62% of the Latino vote in Florida but still lost the sunshine state. The most recent polls show Biden trailing Clinton among Latinos in Florida, in some cases by as much as 10 points.

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The other side of this equation has many Democrats perplexed: why are Latinos turning to President Trump over Biden? If they want to know the answer, they should start by asking the question many of us are asking ourselves: where is the Democratic Party of Obama of 2008?

Today’s Democratic Party is completely unrecognizable from the party many Latinos supported in 2008 and 2012. The 2020 party’s vision of America risks not reflecting the beliefs or values that drew our immigrant ancestors to this great nation.

In recent years, Democrats such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., have pulled the party and its leadership so far left that it has left no room for Latinos who do not embrace extreme liberal or socialist positions.

It didn’t use to be this way.

I remember fondly sitting with then-Senator Barack Obama in Chicago in 2007 when he sincerely wanted to know about the interests and concerns of America’s quickly growing Latino — particularly evangelical — community.

Latinos helped Obama win both in 2008 and in 2012 because Obama’s Democratic Party understood that our community’s beliefs are not monolithic.

We have never been defined by a single issue. Even Latinos who identify as Democrats tend to be more moderate in their beliefs.

For example, while the current Democratic establishment supports defunding the police, Latinos embrace the idea of reforming law-enforcement without diluting or jeopardizing the necessary services that provide security for our families. Simply stated, Latinos are both pro-justice and pro-police.

In addition, while Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., both oppose charter schools and school choice, Latinos desire education equality and believe that all children deserve the highest quality education. In fact, education — not immigration — is one of the primary social concerns for Latinos, and Latino families support school choice.

On some issues, Latinos are actually more conservative than even their white counterparts.

The Latino community is the most pro-life community in the American electorate, according to Pew Research.

Many Latinos, especially people of faith like our exponentially growing evangelical community, have strong social conservative values and beliefs.

One study found that Latino evangelicals tend to have more conservative beliefs than white evangelicals when it comes to the dignity of every human life, and the community finds late-term abortion especially abhorrent.

Can you imagine what Latinos thought when Virginia’s Democrat governor seemed to advocate for infanticide? Arguably, this very issue is one of the primary reasons why 28% of Latino voters supported Trump in 2016, in spite of his tweets, comments and immigration rhetoric.

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In 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton made the mistake of believing Latinos would blindly support her even after she endorsed late-term abortions.

Now, Biden, who in 2019 backtracked his support for the Hyde Amendment, is making the same mistake.

The fact that Sen. Harris has a record of targeting pro-life advocates does not help the Biden-Harris campaign.

Most recently, the Democrats’ hostile grilling of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s personal religious beliefs about the sanctity of human life during her recent confirmation hearings was off-putting for many Latinos.

Of particular concern for many Latinos is also the Democratic Party’s targeting of religious freedom, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Pew Research, Latinos are among the most religious communities in the U.S. and are strong supporters of religious liberty and freedom of speech, yet the Democratic Party has consistently chipped away at these, not realizing it’s targeting countless Latino families who consider their faith to be an integral part of their lives.

When Obama won the 2008 and 2012 elections with strong Latino support he did so because he didn’t try to adapt the will of Latinos to the Democratic platform. Instead, he forced the Democratic party to acknowledge the will of Latinos. He recognized this is a representative democracy. In America, elite politicians do not superimpose their will on the people.

Biden would do well to remember that the issues of concern for Latinos largely remain as they were when I sat with Obama in 2007.

If he actually cares about winning our vote in November, he needs to start listening to what Latinos actually believe. But, it seems to me, it may already be too late.

Let’s remember Biden could have selected a Latino as his running mate — but he didn’t.

He could have selected a non-Latino that at least reflects the values of the vast majority of Latinos — but he didn’t.

Instead, Biden picked the single most liberal senator in Congress — yes, even further left than Sen. Bernie Sanders, according to GovTrack. By doing so, he chose to alienate the Latino vote.

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We shouldn’t be surprised if, come November, President Trump receives the same kind of support George W. Bush did in 2004 from the Latino community. Biden has opted to embrace political expediency over conviction, and with that embrace, he has let go of millions of Latinos.

It was his choice, not ours.

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