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As Biden preps sunny State of the Union, campaign has dire Trump warnings for Latinos

As Biden preps sunny State of the Union, campaign has dire Trump warnings for Latinos

President Biden’s reelection campaign is teeing up a multipronged attack strategy to portray former President Trump as harboring disdain against Latinos.

Ahead of the president’s Thursday evening State of the Union address, the Biden-Harris 2024 campaign shared with The Hill an outline of its Hispanic-facing pitch against Trump, emphasizing economic and health care issues with a splash of immigration, but centered on the former president’s actions and rhetoric toward the Hispanic community.

“Donald Trump fundamentally does not respect Latinos; in fact, he openly despises us,” campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez said.

Biden is hours away delivering his last State of the Union before the election, during which he will focus on highlighting his accomplishments and shining a positive, conciliatory light on his proposals for a second term.

The president’s team is gearing up for what promises to be a merciless general election campaign after Trump’s last major GOP rival, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, dropped out Wednesday morning.

While Democrats will endeavor to equate Trump’s statements on immigration to his general attitude toward Hispanic people — as has been the case since Trump’s infamous 2015 “they bring crime” speech — the GOP’s game plan is to counter that message by driving a wedge with citizens and legal residents on one side and undocumented people and asylum-seekers on the other.

The Biden campaign is planning to drive home two issues it hopes will negate that wedge: “Dreamers” and family separations.

Both those issues are especially important to mixed-status families and symbolic of a broader link between Latinos of any status and immigration.

Still, the Biden campaign’s top issue, both broadly and for Hispanic voters, will be the economy.

A November survey published by UnidosUS found that the top five issues for Hispanic voters are cost of living, jobs and the economy, health care, crime and gun violence, and housing costs.

Immigration and border security rank sixth, listed as a top concern by 20 percent of voters, while 54 percent said cost of living.

The Biden-Harris campaign is preparing to hit Trump by reminding voters of his efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and the former president’s budget proposals, all of which included cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

Though his White House proposed those cuts, Trump used the issue to attack Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the 2024 GOP primary, questioning DeSantis’s stance as a budget hawk while portraying himself as a defender of those social programs.

That dissonance is all but certain to feature in Democratic attacks.

The Biden team will also draw a contrast between Hispanic unemployment in December 2020 — 9.3 percent — and the current rate of 5.5 percent.

Both campaigns are likely to use 2020’s skewed pandemic statistics in their favor: Democrats will call out Trump for massive job losses that year, and Republicans will continue to tout low 2020 border apprehension numbers as a Trump accomplishment.

But the Biden campaign is planning to lay out a jigsaw puzzle of Trump policies that trigger Latino discontent, from abortion restrictions to cuts to social services to blasé attitudes on mass shootings to immigration restrictionism.

“Beyond his words, Trump’s policies are most damaging to Latino families. Latinos want jobs; Trump was the worst jobs president in American history. Latinos want health care; Trump wants to rip it away and make it more expensive. Latinos want the opportunity to succeed in America; Trump wants to deny it to us. Latinos want immigration reform; Trump wants to deport us,” Chavez Rodriguez said.

The attack lines will in certain ways mirror the Biden campaign’s general public strategy but target specific concerns held by many Latino voters.

On gun control, for example, the Democrats will drive home Trump’s words after a school shooting in Iowa in an attempt to show the former president as aloof to a problem that 29 percent of Hispanic voters list as a top-three issue, according to the UnidosUS survey.

“It’s just horrible, so surprising to see it here. But have to get over it, we have to move forward,” Trump said in response to the shooting, after relaying condolences for the victims.

Chavez Rodriguez’s team will also target Trump’s opposition to Biden’s legislative accomplishments, including the Inflation Reduction Act, which expanded green energy jobs popular among Latinos.

Trump 2024 national press secretary Karoline Leavitt brushed aside the Biden camp’s portrayal of the former president, sticking to Trump’s shorter but oft-repeated list of barbs against Biden.

“There are more than 100 polls showing President Trump crushing Joe Biden, including recent polling showing Trump winning every key battleground state, leading with independents by double digits, and beating Biden with Hispanic Americans because these voters are sick and tired of Crooked Joe’s record-high inflation, open borders, crime and chaos,” Leavitt said.

With both campaigns preparing to bombard voters with negative messaging about the other side, team Biden’s Hispanic-targeted long list of anti-Trump gripes will attempt to reverse the gains Trump made among Hispanic voters from 2016 to 2020.

Chavez Rodriguez — the first Latina to run a presidential incumbent’s campaign — will be in charge of connecting the dots between Trump’s words, proposals and allies, and the Hispanic community’s fears.

“Donald Trump and his extreme allies’ Project 2025 shows once again they don’t care about the Latino community and will continue demonizing us for votes,” Chavez Rodriguez said.

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