Obama Hits Campaign Trail In South Florida, Criticizing Trump's Behavior As Worse Than Florida Man
With Election Day less than two weeks away, both presidential campaigns have focused their efforts on Florida. As President Donald Trump cast his vote in Palm Beach County on Saturday, former President Barack Obama spoke to about 400 attendees at a drive-in rally in North Miami on behalf of Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who served eight years as Obama's vice-president.
“Ten days, Miami. Ten days until the most important election of our lifetime,” he said.
Obama encouraged voters to finalize their voting plans, highlighting that early voting was taking place in Florida until next Sunday.
“If you’ve already voted … you gotta go help your friends and family make a plan to vote because this election requires every single one of us,” he said.
Obama said he knew Trump would not embrace his policies when he took over the presidency, but hoped he would show interest in taking the job seriously. He criticized Trump’s lack of responsibility in handling the coronavirus pandemic, as well as his reaction during the 60 Minutes interview earlier this week.
“He was asked, ‘What’s your priority in your second term?’ I’ve run for president, Miami, so I just wanted you to know it’s a good idea to have an answer to this question,” Obama said. “What did Trump say? He got mad and walked out of the interview … If he can’t answer a tough question … then it’s our job to make sure he doesn’t get a second term.”
This statement was met with honks throughout the parking lot, which made Obama chuckle. He highlighted that Florida delivered the presidency twice for him and asked the state to now deliver it to the Biden-Harris campaign.
Obama addressed one of the main attacks from Biden’s opponents that holds significant importance in South Florida, especially for the Cuban and Venezuelan communities.
“Listening to the Republicans, you would think Joe is more communist than the Castros,” Obama said. “Don’t fall for that garbage … Joe Biden is not a socialist. He was a senator from Delaware. He was my vice president. I think folks would know if he was a secret socialist by now.”
He said that Biden would promote human rights in Cuba and around the world, instead of coddling dictators like the current president has done. He compared both candidates by saying that Biden was tough while Trump only acted tough.
“He thinks scowling and being mean is tough, and being rude is tough, but when 60 Minutes is too tough for you, you ain’t all that tough,” Obama said. “If you gotta walk out of a 60 Minutes interview, then you will never stand up to a dictator.”
Obama also took a swing at Trump’s taxes, saying that the president had no problem paying a large sum to China while only paying $750 during his first year in the White House. Someone in the crowd responded by yelling “I paid more!”
“I’m proud to contribute and to give back because I believe we are all in this together as Americans, as one American family, but apparently that’s not how this man thinks,” Obama said. “We built this country by looking out for one another and believing in one another and that’s what Joe Biden believes.”
Obama highlighted Biden’s plan to create 10 million jobs in the clean energy sector, saying that it was part of a bigger plan to protect Florida from climate change and secure environmental justice.
Obama also discussed another key issue for South Florida voters: health care. He criticized Republicans for saying they would protect pre-existing conditions, something the Affordable Care Act already covers, while not having a concrete replacement. He said instead of them admitting that they don’t want people to have health insurance, they’ve attacked the ACA by driving up costs and taking it to the Supreme Court.
“Why would you want to take people’s health insurance [in the middle of a pandemic], just at the very moment when people need health insurance the most?” he said. “Think about what that would do to families right here.”
Obama said Floridians have the biggest stake in making sure the ACA’s protections stay in place. He highlighted that Miami-Dade County has the highest enrollment rate in Obamacare of any county in Florida, and that the state had the most enrollments of state in the country.
“Miami, Joe and Kamala will protect your health care,” he added. “They will expand Medicare. They will sign up more folks on Medicaid and make insurance more affordable for everybody. That’s what they stand for and that’s why you gotta get out there and vote.”
Obama also criticized Trump’s treatment of Puerto Rico, saying a president should help rebuild after a tragedy like Hurricane Maria, not throw paper towels and withhold aid. He laughed at Trump’s idea of nuking hurricanes.
Obama added that a Biden-Harris administration would be less exhausting. He said Americans would not have to think about them every single day or put up with conspiracy retweets and misinformation. He criticized Trump for insulting those who don’t agree with him.
“We won’t have a president that threatens people with jail for just criticizing him,” Obama said. “That’s not normal behavior, Florida ... You wouldn’t tolerate it from a family member. Florida Man wouldn’t even do this stuff. Why are we accepting it from the president of the United States?”
Obama stressed the consequences to the president’s behavior. He said it encourages others to be cruel, divisive and racist. He called out Trump for not criticizing white supremacists.
“That sends a bad message,” Obama said. “It frays the fabric of all of our lives. It affects the way our children see things. It affects the way that our families get along. It affects the way the world looks at America.”
He said what separates Biden and Harris from their opponents is that they care about every American, even the ones not voting for them. He said they understand the ability to work together to solve big problems depends on a fidelity to logic, science and facts.
“These are not Republican or Democrat values, Florida,” he said. “These are American values that we have to reclaim and in order to do that we are going to have to turn out like never before.“
At the end of his speech, Obama emphasized voting blue down the ballot in order to create change in the country. He was met with a chorus of honks as he asked the crowd if they were fired up and ready to bring it home.