MIAMI — Cubans for Trump. Hispanics for Trump. Blacks for Trump. Women for Trump. Veterans for Trump.
With both homemade and campaign-distributed placards, South Floridian supporters of Donald Trump displayed their diversity Wednesday at a waterfront rally, cheering wildly as the GOP nominee urged them to take advantage of the state’s early voting rules to fend off a Hillary Clinton presidency.
“We’re doing great with the African-American community. We’re doing great with the Hispanic community,” Trump said at the Bayfront Park Amphitheatre.
His downtown Miami event was the first of four consecutive stops in what experts said is a must-win state for Trump.
Recent polling showed a very close race between Trump and Clinton here in the Sunshine State, and a RealClearPolitics average showed Trump with less than a 1-point edge.
“The polls are all saying we’re going to win Florida. Don’t believe it,” Trump told his backers. “Get out there and vote. Pretend we’re slightly behind. . . . We don’t want to blow it.”
Though the candidate’s base is white, working-class voters, the crowd Monday in Miami included many Latinos.
Several attendees of Cuban descent said they are supporting Trump because they believe President Barack Obama’s administration has wrongly sought to normalize relations with the island without ensuring its government would make good on human rights and other reforms.
“All we’re doing is giving them U.S. dollars, but they’ve been exactly the same for 50 years,” said Ramiro Morales, 51, of Davie, a physician who emigrated from Cuba. “When you come here, you maintain your roots and your heritage, but you’re American. It’s time for us to stop being the police of the world.”
Joseph Uscinski, a University of Miami associate professor of political science, said many Cuban-Americans, particularly older community members, are stalwart Republicans.
“These are the ones who escaped Cuba and know the devastation that socialism causes,” he said, “and that’s why they don’t want to sign on to the Democrats’ big-spending, big-government programs.”
Uscinski noted that Trump has virtually no ground game or get-out-the-vote operation in Florida — which could cost him the state he needs to win the White House.
Clinton and her surrogates also have focused their efforts on South Florida. The Democrat hosted a Miami concert on Saturday featuring Jennifer Lopez, and her three stops on Tuesday in the state included Fort Lauderdale.
Polls showed the Democratic ticket has the advantage with Floridian minorities. Nonwhite likely voters here overwhelmingly support Clinton and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) — 75 percent — while the majority of white women and men — 56 percent and 65 percent, respectively — back Trump and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, according to a CNN/ORC poll released Tuesday.
The bulk of Trump’s speech condemned his rival.
“If Hillary Clinton were to be elected, it would create an unprecedented and protracted constitutional crisis,” Trump said, predicting that his rival would be in court for her whole tenure.
He referenced several batches of apparently hacked emails released by WikiLeaks as examples of what he slammed as her aptitude for crookedness.
A Department of Justice official involved in the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state emailed his friend and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, discussing the case, Trump said WikiLeaks reveals.
Podesta and other Clinton representatives have said they will not address each WikiLeaks-related allegation, but said federal officials found the hacking was conducted by Russia as a means to influence the election in Trump’s favor.