Former Vice President Joe Biden’s 2020 Democratic presidential campaign was stunned to find out Thursday morning they’d been tricked by President Donald Trump.
Biden’s campaign unveiled a new Latino voter outreach program just the day before, which featured the slogan “Todos Con Biden” (Which translates to “Everyone With Biden.”)
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But the outreach effort was turned on its head just hours later by Trump’s team.
And in a clever political move, the Trump campaign is using Biden’s new slogan to connect Latino voters to the president’s re-election campaign.
It turned out the Biden campaign committed a big error: They forgot to purchase www.todosconbiden.com. They also failed to reserve the @TodosConBiden Twitter handle.
Trump jumped on the opportunity and quickly snatched up the website and social media names — and directed Latino voters to the Trump campaign.
“Oops, Joe se olvidó de Los Latinos. Oops, Joe forgot about Latinos. Joe is all talk,” the website reads, with buttons directing users to the Trump Latino outreach campaign page.
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On social media, Trump’s campaign used the @TodosConBiden handle to attack the Biden campaign’s record with Latino voters —
Joe Biden's record is catching up to him! pic.twitter.com/2jtwrnRgS3
— Todos Con Biden (@todosconbiden) October 23, 2019
Making Biden look foolish may be fun for Trump supporters, but it isn’t the goal of his campaign’s clever move. Trump’s reelection campaign has been focused on winning over Hispanic voters, especially in states not known for them like Pennsylvania.
His second campaign, far better financed and organized than his first, has been pressing every potential tactical advantage, including trying to capture parts of the Hispanic vote they lost in 2016.
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“I think that you win campaigns with what we call ‘tajaditos.’ Little bits. You have to have a little bit of this and a little bit of that,” said Bertica Cabrera Morris, a Cuba native and “Latinos For Trump” advisory board member. “You don’t need everyone from every group, but you have to have a little bit of everything.”
Those on the front lines of Trump’s effort say many Hispanic voters could be won over by a strong economy and conservative Christian social values.
The reelection campaign’s efforts are understandably focused on key swing states like Florida and Nevada and could also shore up Trump’s hold on Arizona and Texas. Increased outreach may also have an effect in less obvious areas where Trump eked out a 2016 victory, though, like parts of Pennsylvania where the Latino population is booming and where his margin for error is slender.
“Latinos are moving out of the urban centers, moving away from the stronghold of the Democrats,” said Jose Fuentes, a former attorney general of Puerto Rico who is advising the president’s reelection effort and called Pennsylvania “a perfect example.” ″We’re microtargeting those areas that can be successful for us.”
That means locales like York, a city in the southern part of the state with a population around 45,000 famous for its York Barbells. It is nearly a third Hispanic, many with roots in Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic. The city, heavily Democratic, is surrounded by solidly Trump country.
Fuentes said party officials have identified about a dozen areas nationwide to woo Hispanic, black and Asian voters and funded the training of 500-plus staffers who increased their recruiting efforts at local events.
A swing in minority voters to Trump in 2016 was the key to putting him over-the-top over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Democrat Hillary Clinton beat Trump 66% to 28% among Hispanics nationally, lower than the 71% Barack Obama won in 2012.
Hispanics make up only about 8% of Pennsylvania’s population. Trump won the state — home to about 12.8 million people — by around 44,000 votes, or less than 1% of those cast, in 2016. Nearly 1 million Hispanics now live in Pennsylvania and the Pew Research Center estimated that, for the 2018 midterms, 501,000 statewide were eligible to vote — 10th largest in the nation.
AP’s VoteCast data showed that 38% of Pennsylvania’s Hispanics voted Republican in 2018 congressional races, but Democrats still easily won the Senate and governor’s races.
Fuentes said a key to winning Hispanic support is tailoring messages to people who have ancestral roots in different parts of Latin America. Cubans are chiefly interested in U.S. relations with the island and with Venezuela, he said. For Puerto Ricans, it’s recovery after the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017 and U.S. statehood questions. Mexicans tend to be most motivated by commercial relations, as are people from most of South America. Central Americans tend to be most focused on immigration policy.
Messages targeting those types of voters in specific areas can resonate, Fuentes added, even if the president’s rhetoric sometimes doesn’t.
“This president has his own style,” Fuentes said. “But my line is he’s been successful with it.”
Trump seized on a coming “caravan” of Central American illegal immigrants before Election Day 2018 and saw Democrats flip 41 House seats. But a Gallup poll released in July found that 27% of Americans named illegal immigration the most important problem facing the U.S. — the highest ever measured for the issue. The Trump campaign highlighted that in emails to supporters, saying the president’s “leadership and determination” can “Keep America Safe.”
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“We came legally and so did our forefathers. That means a lot to us, the rule of law,” said Republican Texas state Sen. Pete Flores, a retired game warden of Mexican ancestry who represents a district that includes 460-plus miles of U.S.-Mexico border. In heavily Hispanic South Texas, Flores said Trump “has more support among regular folks than most people are letting on” because unemployment is so low.
Back in Pennsylvania, the same themes are playing out, said former Republican Rep. Lou Barletta, who lost last year’s Senate race. As mayor of Hazelton in 2006, Barletta championed one of the nation’s first ordinances forbidding landlords and employers from dealing with people in the country illegally — which was later blocked in federal court.
“I think when the president talks about securing the border, about how people who are here illegally need to go home (because) they committed crimes, they understand what he is talking about,” Barletta said of the state’s Hispanic voters.
And Wednesday, Biden’s campaign has been tricked into connecting Trump’s message to potential Latino voters.
The Associated Press contributed to this article