HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Energized and campaigning hard, President Joe Biden tore into Republican proposals to undo prescription drug price caps and change Social Security and Medicare on Tuesday in Florida — and slammed GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis as “Donald Trump incarnate.”
In a final-week sprint for Democrats before Election Day, Biden will campaign in New Mexico on Thursday, California on Friday and Pennsylvania on Saturday. By many accounts, Democratic control of Congress and several statehouses is in peril, and Biden is trying to stem that tide.
In Florida, a state famously popular among retirees, he focused on federal programs for elderly people and the less well-to-do. He declared that the current crop of GOP candidates “ain’t your father’s Republican party" and said that he prayed God would deliver his opponents “some enlightenment."
After those remarks in Hallandale Beach, he headlined a fundraiser for gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist in Golden Beach. He was also scheduled to speak at a rally for the state’s Democratic Party, including Senate candidate Val Demings.
At the event for Crist, Biden made the stakes personal against DeSantis. The Florida governor is a major adversary of the Biden White House and a potential 2024 candidate for the presidency. Biden suggested that DeSantis was just another version of former President Donald Trump and criticized him for “demonizing the LGBTQ population”
“This to me is one of the most important races in the country,” Biden said. “Charlie is running against Donald Trump incarnate.”
The president also blasted Republicans who made light of the attack against Paul Pelosi, the husband of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He asked how such a political assault could happen and "nobody in that party condemns it for exactly what it is.”
In Hallandale Beach, he dinged Demings' Republican Senate opponent, incumbent Marco Rubio, for failing to back his Inflation Reduction Act, passed in August by the Democratic-led Congress.
It includes several health care provisions popular among elderly people and the less-well-off, including a $2,000 cap on out-of pocket medical expenses and a $35 monthly cap per prescription of insulin. It requires companies that raise prices faster than overall inflation to pay Medicare a rebate,
“Not one single Republican voted for it in the United States Senate," Biden told a crowd at Hallandale Beach community center. “Every single solitary Republican in Congress voted against these savings, including Sen. Rubio."
Biden's appearances with Crist and Demings came after some of the Democrats' most embattled candidates, including Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock and Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly, have opted not to appear with him.
Still, the president's advisers insist he can be helpful by talking about GOP policies they believe voters find objectionable.
Meanwhile, Republicans are bullish on their prospects across Florida as voter registration trends and demographic shifts suggest the state will continue moving to the right.
Democrats are particularly concerned about the trend in Miami-Dade County, home to 1.5 million Hispanics of voting age. It has been a Democratic stronghold for the past 20 years, but the GOP made significant gains in the past presidential election. Republicans, including Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez, are predicting the region will turn red on Nov. 8.
Should Democrats lose Miami-Dade, it could virtually eliminate their path to victory in statewide Florida contests, including presidential elections, moving forward.
Biden has seized on Florida Sen. Rick Scott's February proposal to sunset all federal legislation after five years, which the president says would require Congress to reauthorize Medicare and Social Security, as emblematic of what he's termed the “ultra-MAGA” agenda Democrats are running against.
Biden, who often ends his speech by asking, “God to protect our troops” offered a salty addendum with his remarks in Hallandale Beach.
“God give some of our Republican friends some enlightenment," Biden said.
Associated Press National Political Writer Steve Peoples in New York contributed to this story.
Follow the AP's coverage of the 2022 midterm elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections
Zeke Miller, The Associated Press