2020 Democratic Candidates Visit South Florida Ahead Of Debate

May 24, 2019

In less than a month, 20 Democratic presidential candidates will debate in South Florida.

A few of the candidates have already paid a visit to the region. This week, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg campaigned in Wynwood. Former vice president Joe Biden also spoke this week at a private fundraiser in Coral Gables.

In the past few weeks, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was in the region raising money, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar also stopped by.

Winning Florida is key to a successful presidential run for the Democrats – and winning decisively in South Florida is key for any Democratic ticket.

On the South Florida Roundup, host Tom Hudson spoke with Miami Herald politics reporter David Smiley and Sun Sentinel opinion editor Sergio Bustos.

WLRN: What are their messages and what's their strategy here? Is it votes and money? Or is it just one or the other at this point?

SMILEY: Mostly it's money. There's still not a lot of organizing going on in Florida, but there is a lot of money to be had. And so they're just trying to pad their pocketbooks. For Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, they are holding public events to also try to get their name out down here. Joe Biden doesn't really have that problem. They did have the press cover his fundraiser in Miami, but mostly he's just concerned with raising money. And he raised a lot of it.

Are they putting any of that money back to work here in South Florida?

BUSTOS: It's hard to tell at this point. But in terms of the money, I'm going to be curious to see how many can survive because all the big money people are going to probably hold off until this field kind of whittles down with so many [candidates]. And judging from that last Florida Atlantic University poll, Biden far in front of everyone, along with Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

What about Mayor Pete's performance here? What about the messages that you're hearing from candidates who are making public appearances in South Florida?

SMILEY: There are Democrats down here who are supporting him. They feel like he's got the kind of face and message that they want the party to project going forward. A lot of hope. A lot of new politics-type messaging.

One of our columnists Fabiola Santiago wrote a column about the fact that neither Buttigieg nor Biden came down here talking about issues important to certain demographics in the community. Neither of them talked about Venezuela or Cuba. I've always thought that that's a mistake to come down here and give a sort of boilerplate message. Particularly Buttigieg, who can probably carve a name out for himself among the field, by coming out here doing that. And really, they just brought their standard campaign stump.