Biden predicts Floridians will pass ballot initiative to protect abortion access

President Joe Biden assailed Donald Trump Tuesday over the state of abortion rights in Florida and across the country, and predicted that voters in the Sunshine State would reject newly established restrictions on the procedure come November.

Speaking at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, the president cast the 2024 elections in Florida as the latest test of voters’ enthusiasm over abortion rights since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson, the landmark 2022 decision that overturned a long-established federal right to an abortion.

“Since the Dobbs decision … states all over this country — from Ohio, Kansas, Michigan, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Virginia — women and men in every background voted in record numbers to protect reproductive freedom,” Biden said. “This November, you can add Florida to that list.”

Biden’s visit to Tampa came just a week before a six-week abortion ban goes into effect in Florida following a state Supreme Court ruling earlier this month. Florida voters will also have a chance in November to weigh in on a proposed constitutional amendment that would guarantee abortion access up until the point of fetal viability – generally understood to be around 24 weeks of pregnancy.

The proposal would also allow for a woman to have an abortion when it’s determined to be medically necessary to protect the patient’s health.

Spectators cheer as President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop at Hillsborough Community College Tuesday, April 23, 2024 in Tampa.
Spectators cheer as President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop at Hillsborough Community College Tuesday, April 23, 2024 in Tampa.

Democrats are hoping to use that ballot measure, known as Amendment 4, to boost their own prospects in Florida after years of flagging electoral performances in the state. After the state Supreme Court decided to allow the measure to appear on the ballot in November, Biden’s campaign blasted out a memo insisting that Florida is “winnable” for the president.

Biden sought to make that case on Tuesday by tying Florida’s upcoming six-week abortion ban to Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee who has taken credit for appointing some of the very U.S. Supreme Court justices who overturned federal protections for abortions nearly two years ago.

“Donald Trump is worried voters are going to hold him accountable for the cruelty and chaos,” Biden said. “The bad news for Donald Trump is we are going to hold him accountable.”

Biden’s visit to Florida marked the latest sign that the president and his campaign see abortion as a political game changer, despite the state’s rightward shift in recent years. U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg traveled in a personal capacity to Miami last week, where he predicted that Florida’s unique place in the abortion debate made it a realistic target for Biden and Democratic candidates down the ballot in November.

Buttigieg acknowledged that winning Florida would be difficult for the president, but said that the Biden campaign sees the state as an opportunity to complicate Trump’s path to victory.

“We know it’s uphill. That’s exactly why I’m here and it’s why we’re working hard here,” Buttigieg told the Miami Herald. “It is not only a can-win state for Joe Biden, it’s also a state that Donald Trump can’t afford to lose. So we see a lot of potential here, both today and for the long run.”

Republicans were quick to pounce on Biden’s visit to Florida. During an appearance in Naples earlier on Tuesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who signed Florida’s six-week abortion ban into law last year and opposes Amendment 4, accused Biden of backing a ballot measure that “will mandate abortion up until the moment of birth” — a claim that the amendment’s supporters say is false.

REALITY CHECK: DeSantis says ballot proposal allows abortion ‘until birth.’ Here’s what you should know

DeSantis brushed off the notion that Biden has a realistic shot at winning Florida in November, arguing that Florida voters have already rejected the president’s political agenda.

“All I can tell you is Floridians are not buying what Joe Biden is selling,” DeSantis said. “And in November, we’re going to play an instrumental role in sending him back to Delaware where he belongs.”

Karoline Leavitt, the national press secretary for Trump’s campaign, said that Biden’s stance on abortion rights is “radically out of touch” with that of most Americans, and insisted that voters would ultimately decide the November presidential election on other issues, like border security and the economy.

“Women want a President who will secure our nation’s borders, remove violent criminals from our neighborhoods, and build an economy that helps hardworking families thrive — and that’s exactly what President Trump will do,” Leavitt said in a statement. “Women know our nation will be safer and more prosperous under Donald Trump than it is under Joe Biden, and that’s why President Trump is leading in every single battleground state poll.”

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.