WASHINGTON – In some corners of the Latin American community, there is a compelling familiarity with President Donald Trump’s account of an American economic comeback that appears to be give it an opening where it matters most six weeks before the election: on the sidelines.
It is a story that has both deep roots and immediate significance to many voters whose families fled political and economic oppression in Latin American countries for security and opportunity in the United States, as well as for those who are trying to conserve what they have built in the shadow of the coronavirus crisis.
“We built the biggest economy in history, and now we’re doing it again,” Trump said Wednesday at a Latinos for Trump event in Phoenix. “As Hispanic Americans, you know better than anyone, we have implemented historic tax cuts and regulatory cuts, the largest in our country’s history.”
Strategists from both parties say they see an opportunity for Trump to connect with the message that his policies fueled a strong economy – including record unemployment among Latinos – before the coronavirus hit and it hit it. is leading a recovery that would be threatened if Democratic candidate Joe Biden wins in November.
“One of the reasons the president is successful with Latino voters is that they trust him when it comes to the economy,” former representative Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla, said on Monday in an interview on MSNBC. “The Hispanic community, especially here in the state of Florida, is an entrepreneurial community.”
Democrats focused on Biden “Rebuild better“stimulus package and disparities in health care costs and outcomes, which they portray as an economic problem for Americans, including many Latinos who are not wealthy. They attribute the economic downturn to Trump’s management of the coronavirus crisis and note that it has taken over an economy that was already growing.
“The president botched Covid’s response, seriously botched it,” Biden said on September 4. “We cannot face an economic crisis until you have conquered the pandemic. You cannot have an economic return when nearly 1,000 Americans die from Covid each day.”
For now, immigration struggles, some of the busiest in the Trump presidency, have come under the spotlight.
The priority many Latino voters give to immigration go up and down over time – every voter is already a citizen – but economic considerations necessarily come to the fore when times are tough. Eighty percent of Hispanic voters polled said the economy was “very important” to their presidential choices in a Pew poll released last week, and 76 percent said the same about health care. Immigration ranked eighth – at 59% – behind topics such as racial inequality, the composition of the Supreme Court and climate change.
Trump doesn’t have to win the majority of Latino voters. History and polls suggest he won’t, but moving the needle a few percentage points in a swing state or two could be the difference between a re-election and a loss, and more than a half. a dozen strategists and officials from both parties said the group of Latino men under 50 includes a subset of rare and highly coveted persuasive voters.
“With tight margins and a tight, persuasive universe, the focus will be on where you can earn a point or two,” said Danny Diaz, a veteran Republican campaign strategist. “For Trump, that will mean Hispanic men.”
There is an opening for Trump or Biden to influence some Latino business owners, said Ramiro Cavazos, president and CEO of the Hispanic American Chamber of Commerce. Before the pandemic, fastest growing in small businesses was nationwide in the Latino community, and there were over 600,000 Hispanic small businesses in Florida alone. Many of these business owners are looking for a plan to make sure they have a fair chance at government guaranteed loans and federal contracts, Cavazos said.
“Access to capital, access to contracts, these are the two biggest problems for our members,” he said. “We hear that neither side has yet really come up with a serious small business plan for Latinos and how we’re going to rebuild the economy. I haven’t seen one yet.”
Primarily, Trump and Biden preach to their respective choirs – Trump to the smaller group of Republican-leaning Latino voters and Biden to their larger Democratic counterparts.
Other persuasive Latino voters primarily seek security, said Dean Aguillen, a longtime Democratic strategist.
“It’s a mixed bag with these voters, but the health care part is important,” he said. “Health care and the economy are the two things that motivate these people.
And, of course, a voter or voters in the same household often have to weigh the considerations of one basket against those of the other – for example, Trump’s promise to roll back small business regulations against the Biden’s vow to keep the insurance industry from the Affordable Care Act. regulations on pre-existing medical conditions.
Voter behavior cannot be predicted, but Trump is focusing on a two-sided message – hope and fear – that seems designed to at least curb Biden’s participation. In addition to promoting his own record, he warns Latino voters that a Biden victory would push the United States toward socialism, even though Biden has denounced left-wing economic and political ideology. Trump’s campaign had produced an ad with images of Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders and Latin American strongmen to emphasize this point.
“Here in South Florida there are a lot of victims of these socialist revolutions – Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, FARC terrorists in Colombia,” Curbelo said. Biden “has been associated with these governments, unfairly, by the Trump campaign, but he has not defended himself against these attacks.”
Trump follows Biden among Latino voters in the polls in all swing states, but he does better in Florida. A poll conducted in late August by Equis Research showed that Biden led Trump from 53% to 37% among Latino voters in Florida, a lower margin than Hillary Clinton. 62 percent to 35 percent win among those set in 2016.
Data like this is sirens for Democratic strategists, and Biden’s team has responded forcefully, if not quickly, to the alarms. He and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Both campaigned separately in Florida for the first time during general election season last week, and he is increasing his spending to target Latino voters in the state with advertising.
On Wednesday, her campaign was to organize a virtual fundraiser featuring a roundtable discussion on her “Latin political agenda” with Julissa Reynoso, a former ambassador to Uruguay; Wally Brewster, former Ambassador to the Dominican Republic; and others.
The Trump campaign has 16 field offices in “key” states to train new Latino volunteers, and its Latinos for Trump branch focuses on voter registration, persuasion and participation, a campaign official said.
Download the NBC News app for the latest news and Politics
Representative Ruben Gallego, D-Arizona, said he believes Trump is not really making any headway with Latino voters and that in Arizona, the question of persuasion for most young Latinos is not which candidate support.
“They’re trying to decide if they vote for Biden or not,” he said, adding that he thinks Trump has done a superficial outreach in the Latino community “to make middle-class whites feel more at ease that he is not racist “.
But it’s clear right now that Trump is in violation, while Biden is still trying to make sure Latino voters show up and vote for him in swing states like Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, at least at the same rates they did for Clinton four years ago.
“He’s not where he needs to be,” Aguillen said. “There is a lot of work to be done. I’m sure they now understand the meaning. They just have to get started.”