Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) rallied a diverse coalition of Latino Floridians for President Donald Trump at a rally at Opa-Locka Executive Airport in Miami-Dade County on Sunday night. He mocked “Sleepy Joe” Biden and condemned socialism. His remarks appear to have offended Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
“This crowd here is as diverse as you can imagine,” Rubio said. “Let’s do a little roll call. ¿Donde esta el Cubano?” The crowd erupted in cheers. Rubio went through the list of Latino groups in Florida, immigrants from Venezuela, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and Colombia.
“And now, the loudest one of all, Americano! And that’s the point,” the senator added, noting that all the diverse immigrants who come to America to embrace American ideals and pursue the American dream become Americans.
Rubio lit into Biden.
“I do not want to be mean to Joe Biden, and so I was going to be very careful about what I said here tonight but then I realized it’s ten-thirty, he’s already asleep. I can say whatever I want!” he joked.
The crowd chanted, “Sleepy Joe! Sleepy Joe!”
In a hilarious moment, Rubio replied, “Shhh! Don’t wake him up!”
Then the senator returned to the central message that unites Florida Latinos against Joe Biden, who has sidled up to AOC, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and other outright socialists who travel with the Democratic Party.
“One of the things that unites so many people here is you have come to this country because you lost your native land,” Rubio said. “And you lost it to something called socialism.”
“People get on rafts to get away from socialism. People risk being eaten by sharks to get away from socialism. People leave behind their homes, their families, their loved ones, their entire life, to get away from socialism,” the senator noted, referencing the Cuban refugees who fled across the Gulf of Mexico to come to Florida. “We are not going to bring to this country the things that people flee.”
Rubio acknowledged two arguments Democrats and left-leaning media outlets use to mock the threat of socialism in the Democratic Party.
Rubio admitted that “not all Democrats are socialists,” but he argued that “all socialists are Democrats!”
The senator also noted that many commentators will claim he “scared the people about socialism.”
“This is not a group that needs to be scared about socialism, it’s seen it face-to-face, it knows its reality,” Rubio declared.
Trump rally crowd: "Sleepy Joe! Sleepy Joe!"
— The Hill (@thehill) November 2, 2020
Indeed, scenes of rationing, rioting, and poverty in Venezuela under socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro have resonated with Florida’s Latinos, especially those who fled socialist regimes or whose families escaped from poverty and oppression. Trump’s opposition to socialism resonates with them.
“The Venezuelan collapse is a major boon for Republicans and has become baggage for Democrats, whether they deserve it or not,” Matt Isbell, a Florida-based Democratic data analyst, told RealClearPolitics.
While Hillary Clinton won the Latino vote in Florida by 62 percent to 35 percent, Trump won the Cuban American vote, 54 percent to 41 percent. Since then, Sanders and AOC have pushed the Democratic Party further Left, dragging the ostensible moderate Joe Biden along with it.
Republican turnout in Miami-Dade County — a Democratic stronghold — had reached nearly 300,000 by Saturday, much higher than in every other Florida county. That turnout rate — 5.5 percentage points higher than the Republican average for the county and 7.7 points higher than the Democratic average — bodes well for Trump in a deep blue part of the state.
Jason Poblete, a Washington, D.C., attorney and former Republican Capitol Hill staffer who grew up in Miami, told RCP that this type of enthusiasm for a Republican presidential candidate “is unprecedented in South Florida. Not even during the Reagan years when I was starting out in politics have I seen this much ground game from the Republicans.”
Trump Communications Director Tim Murtaugh reported that Republicans have knocked on 3 million doors in the state, compared to the 300,000 Democrats say they’ve canvassed.
AOC tried to respond to Rubio’s powerful arguments against socialism by accusing the senator himself of being a socialist. Yes, seriously.
“Curious what you call GOP giving away billions in public funds to Wall St & fossil fuel companies? Or what you call YOUR ability to go to Walter Reed hospital & receive socialized healthcare for free? Funny how it’s only ‘socialism’ when others get what y’all give yourselves,” she replied. “Also, the idea that socialists like Dems… lol.”
(Also, the idea that socialists like Dems… lol)
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 1, 2020
By “billions … to Wall St & fossil fuel companies,” AOC referred to the Trump tax cuts, which gave a whopping 82 percent of middle-class Americans a tax cut in 2018, directed investors to put their money into distressed communities, and saved working families an estimated $100 billion. AOC is attempting to turn Trump’s strong record on the economy against him.
It seemed rather odd for AOC to attack Rubio’s ability to get health care, however. Like most Americans, senators like Rubio and presidents like Trump receive health care benefits from his employer, in this case, the federal government.
Finally, AOC suggested that socialists do not like Democrats, yet the incursion of candidates like AOC — a registered member of the Democratic Socialists of America — represents the growth of socialism in the Democratic Party. Many socialists may be too radical for the Democratic Party — so it is unlikely that “all socialists are Democrats” — but it seems the vast majority of Americans who consider themselves socialist do, indeed, vote Democrat.
Florida Latinos would be wise to reject a Democratic Party that does indeed look more and more like the socialist parties that prompted brutal repression in their ancestral homelands.
This powerful political argument may make the crucial difference in the swing state of Florida.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.