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Biden makes his first visit to Florida as Democratic nominee

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Joe Biden is visiting Florida for the first time as the Democratic presidential nominee, amid questions about his ability to garner support from Latino voters, a crucial voting bloc in the Sunshine State. Biden will mark Hispanic Heritage Month in an event in Kissimmee on Tuesday evening.

“I will talk about how I am going to work like the devil to make sure I turn every Latino and Hispanic vote,” Biden told reporters on Monday about his plans for his trip to Florida. The former vice president also said that his overall support among Latino voters is “much higher” than support for Mr. Trump, but he acknowledged “they’ve got to go higher.”

Although Biden could still win the White House without Florida, CBS News digital politics reporter Grace Segers reports the state is considered a linchpin for President Trump, who won its 29 electoral votes in 2016. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has committed to spending $100 million in the state to aid Biden. However, Biden’s support appears to be slipping among Latino voters, who make up roughly 26% of the state’s population. An NBC News/Marist College poll released earlier this month showed Biden lagging behind Mr. Trump among likely Latino voters, receiving 46% support from likely Latino voters compared to 50% support for Mr. Trump. Exit polls from 2016 showed that the majority of Latinos in the state backed Hillary Clinton, although Cubans were about twice as likely to support Mr. Trump as non-Cuban Latinos. Although Biden may have an uphill battle to attract Cuban voters, he has sought to strengthen his support among Puerto Rican voters, who also make up a significant portion of the population in Florida.

Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny allowed the Biden campaign to use his music in an ad which is airing in Pennsylvania and Florida. Biden has also harshly criticized Mr. Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico in 2017.

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Others have questioned whether the Biden campaign is doing enough to reach out to the Latino community. Chuck Rocha, a former senior adviser to Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaigns, told CBSN on Monday that Biden was lagging among Latino voters in part because of “a lack of money” from his campaign on Latino outreach. “The fact of the matter is there’s just not money going to take that message to Latinos as there needs to be,” Rocha said. Javier Fernandez, a Democrat running for the state Senate in Miami-Dade County, told CBS Miami that there did not seem to be much enthusiasm for Biden among Latino voters in Florida. “I don’t know that they’re super excited about Joe Biden,” Fernandez said.

Mr. Trump has also been working to appeal to Latino voters in recent weeks. He participated in a Latinos for Trump roundtable in Phoenix on Monday. Although some Latino voters are wary of Mr. Trump because of his anti-immigration policies, Biden has also faced criticism because of the high number of deportations implemented by the Obama administration. Biden has said that he regrets the deportations of migrants without criminal records under President Obama.

Biden also attended an event with veterans in Tampa on Tuesday. Biden, whose son served in the military, slammed Mr. Trump’s “degradation of service members.” A poll by Monmouth University released on Tuesday found that Mr. Trump leads Biden by just four percentage points in military households in Florida. Over one-third of the state’s electorate lives in military or veteran households.

FROM THE CANDIDATES

TRUMP-PENCE CAMPAIGN

As the battle for the nation’s sliver of persuadable voters continues in earnest ahead of Election Day, the Trump campaign is back on the airwaves in Pennsylvania and Arizona – two states that begin early voting on October 7 and October 19, respectively. CBS news campaign reporter Nicole Sganga reports this week’s $12.8 million local television investment also buys the Trump campaign time in Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, Arizona, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Georgia, Maine and Nebraska, according to data from Kantar/CMAG.

RELATED:  GOP formally nominates Trump for reelection on first day of RNC

As polling shows the president’s messaging on safety and security continuing to fall flat, his re-election bid has shifted its focus from Mr. Trump’s “Law and Order” mantra to the economy, touting job creation and record unemployment numbers among women and minority voters in new 30-second spots. Campaign surrogates have also followed suit.

“President Trump knew exactly what to do to bring to us unprecedented prosperity,” former Attorney General Jose Fuentes told reporters on a Trump campaign call, Tuesday. “Before the economy was artificially interrupted by the coronavirus outbreak, Latino unemployment reached a near record low 3.4%.”

Yet joblessness today for Hispanic workers in the U.S. lingers just above 10% – higher than the 7.3% unemployment rate for White workers, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics. Two weeks out from the first head-to-head matchup between President Trump and Joe Biden, Sganga also reports the president has not begun official debate preparation.

“I sort of prepare every day just doing what I’m doing,” the president told Fox News Tuesday. Mr. Trump later added, “I don’t know which Biden is going to show up,” in reference to the former vice president’s uneven performances during Democratic primary debates.

BIDEN-HARRIS CAMPAIGN

Ahead of Biden’s trip to Tampa, the Biden campaign kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month with a press call Tuesday afternoon, speaking to reporters about its rollout of what it’s billing as a “compassionate” comprehensive plan for Puerto Rico.

CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that the campaign said the goal is to ensure that Puerto Rico has the resources needed to rebuild its infrastructure and to restore hope on the island.

“Whether you live in Reading, Pennsylvania, Kissimmee, Florida, or San Juan, Puerto Rico, you deserve a fair return for your work and an equal chance to get ahead, and a government that treats every American citizen equally and has their back when you get knocked down,” said deputy campaign manager Julie Chávez Rodríguez during the call.

Other aspects of the plan include allowing Puerto Ricans to determine what their status should be; providing investments to critical infrastructure to aid the island’s reconstruction efforts; and ensuring that families on the island have access to the same quality health care and nutrition resources that any other U.S. region would receive.

The campaign also said a Biden administration would create a working group composed of local stakeholders and representatives of Puerto Rico and members from the administration, to help ensure that the island receives existing resources and that the resources are dispersed throughout the island.

Biden campaign Florida coalitions director Javier Cuervas called it “a historical day for Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican community,” and added that “no president or presidential candidate has ever provided a plan as comprehensive” as Biden’s. Though today marks Biden’s first in-person campaign stop in Florida as the Democratic presidential nominee. Mitchell notes that his campaign has hosted virtual events and launched ads appealing to Puerto Rican communities.

LISTEN TO THIS

“THE DEBRIEF”

In the newest episode of “The Debrief with Major Garrett,” CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett chronicles the past six months in the pandemic-plagued sports world.

RELATED:  Transcript: Jay Inslee on "Face the Nation," June 28, 2020

The delay of sports because of the pandemic led to a mega sports equinox on September 10 when all of the four major leagues – NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL – and a number of other sports competed on the same day. 

Athletes across the leagues have returned with calls for social justice and racial justice in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a police officer during the pandemic.

“People expecting right now for sports to be some sort of a diversion from this horrible pandemic, got a rude awakening, because not only are people of color who make up the most of the sports that we watch the most, particularly football and basketball…,” Washington Post Columnist Kevin Blackistone said. “Not only are people of color predominant there, but they are also, unfortunately, the predominant victims of this pandemic, and so they’re feeling it on both ends.” The episode also features interviews with Boston Celtics player Enes Kanter, CBS Saturday Morning co-host Dana Jacobson, USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan and others.

STATE-BY-STATE

MICHIGAN

The Michigan Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that would allow clerks to start processing absentee ballots one day before the general election, reports CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster.

The bill would allow clerks in cities with at least 25,000 people to do some pre-processing activities on Monday, such as opening envelopes, but would require ballots to remain in their secrecy sleeves. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson called it a “step in the right direction” but said the bill “does not go nearly far enough” to provide help for clerks.

“I support the small step forward because I know at this point clerks will take any legislative assistance. But the bill comes up far short of what our clerks and voters deserve,” Benson said in a statement. “This bill allows only ten hours, only minimal processing, and includes a sunset provision that requires clerks to continue their advocacy in years to come. Ultimately, it does a disservice to the 1,500 election officials who work tirelessly for their communities and our democracy, and doesn’t do enough to bring about more timely election results.”

The bill passed 34-2. It now goes to the Michigan House.

OHIO

In a lawsuit brought by the Ohio Democratic Party against Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Franklin County judge ruled in favor of the Ohio Democratic Party, writing that LaRose did not have the legal authority to issue a directive limiting each of Ohio’s county boards of elections to only one ballot drop box per county.

“No statute says that delivery must occur with only one box per county. No statute says that delivery would be improper to be a drop box controlled by a board and placed at a safe location separate and apart from the main board office,” the judge wrote. “The statute is silent on such matters. The Secretary cannot slip new words into the law.”

CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman says the judge also wrote that LaRose’s counsel noted that if the state ruled that additional drop boxes are required, LaRose’s office would need to implement the ruling. “The Secretary has stated publicly he supports additional drop boxes if they are legal; and his lawyer represented on the record in the Northern District of Ohio that his client would abide by a state court ruling,” the judge wrote. Maggie Sheehan, LaRose’s spokesperson, said in a statement that LaRose’s directive will remain in place. She also noted that the secretary’s office will appeal the ruling at the earliest possible opportunity.

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“Importantly, while the judge issued a declaration as to the law regarding the return of absentee ballots and drop boxes, he did not rule on the Plaintiff’s request to enjoin the Secretary’s Directive,” Sheehan said. “Lacking that, today’s ruling didn’t change anything and the Secretary’s Directive remains in place.”

CONGRESSIONAL COVERAGE

IN THE SENATE

NORTH CAROLINA

Republican Senator Thom Tillis and Democratic candidate Cal Cunningham faced off in the first debate for the general election Monday night.

In the debate, Cunningham said he would not necessarily take a vaccine if one was offered, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson. He told the moderator, “Yes, I would be hesitant, but I’m going to ask a lot of questions,” adding, “I think that’s incumbent on all of us right now.”

According to Joe Bruno of WSOC TV, Cunningham said after the debate that he would take the vaccine if the FDA signs off on it and it is free of politics. Monday’s debate featured questions over how each candidate would ameliorate the suffering North Carolinians are experiencing because of coronavirus. The debate came 10 days after the state started sending out ballots to voters. The candidates were asked if they trust mail-in voting. Tillis said he trusts the system in North Carolina and will vote absentee, and Cunningham said he trusts the vote-by-mail system but plans to vote in-person next month.

IN THE HOUSE

MESSAGING

The House GOP unveiled its 2021 agenda less than 50 days before election day, should it take back the House, reports CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro.

Its “Commitment to America” plan focuses, in part, on getting a COVID-19 vaccine developed this year, increasing police funding by more than $1.75 billion and cutting American dependence on China.

“We cannot slow the progress of America’s ingenuity or allow our science to be politicized,” the plan says, adding that there should be investments in therapeutics and protecting individuals with pre-existing conditions. Some of these themes, such as supporting law enforcement, have already made their debut in House GOP campaign ads.

In an appearance on the Capitol steps, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other GOP leadership described a need to return to a pre-COVID America, while also slamming Democrats.

“Two years ago, Speaker Pelosi promised the American people that Democrats would serve a responsibility to seek common ground. And she did the complete opposite,” McCarthy said, before hitting House Democrats for impeachment and holding up COVID-19 legislation with their “liberal wish list.”

Republicans need a net gain of 17 seats in order to flip the House, a task made harder by consistently high Democrat incumbent fundraising and a dispersed battlefield. Republican Mike Garcia, who helped cut that gap down by flipping a seat in California during a May special election, called the commitment a “renewal of national pride.”

The plan’s one-page memo also talks about reaching “bipartisan consensus to protect and strengthen Social Security,” something House Democrats have been attacking Republicans on due to Mr. Trump’s payroll tax deferral.

House Democratic campaign chair Cheri Bustos criticized House Republicans for “downplay[ing] the severity of COVID-19” and for opposing the HEROES Act, a COVID-19 relief bill that’s stalled since it passed in May. “The only roadmap Kevin McCarthy needs is a straight line to Mitch McConnell’s office to demand he take up bipartisan House-passed legislation to support American workers and rebuild our economy,” Bustos said in a statement.


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