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Biden campaigns in Nevada and Arizona to win over Latino voters: ‘I desperately need your help’

The president visited two key battleground states with the aim of mobilizing the electorate that made his victory possible in 2020

U.S. President Joe Biden at a campaign event at El Portal Mexican restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona.
U.S. President Joe Biden at a campaign event at El Portal Mexican restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona.Kevin Lamarque (REUTERS)
Luis Pablo Beauregard

“I desperately need your help.” President Joe Biden did not mince words on his visit Tuesday to Nevada and Arizona, two states that he won in 2020 with the help of the Latino vote. Four years later, the situation is not looking good. The Western states are hanging in the air ahead of the November 5 elections. They are two of the six battleground states that Biden and Donald Trump are both seeking to win. The president has visited the cities of Reno, Las Vegas and Phoenix in a bid to mobilize the Latino vote, a key political force that he must win over if he wants to triumph again. “This election isn’t a referendum on me. It’s between me and a guy named Trump,” he said in front of 75 people at a Mexican restaurant in Arizona. On Tuesday morning, his campaign launched “Latinos con Biden-Harris,” a national program that aims to reverse the gains Trump appears to be making with the Latino electorate.

“Last week, Donald Trump and I clinched the nominations. We’re going to beat him again,” Biden said in Reno, Nevada. The election, he said, is a matter of “values.” “Who are we for? What are we trying to get done?” he asked the audience after reading a quote from Trump, in which the Republican promised to give tax cuts to the rich if he returns to the White House. “Trump wants to undo everything we’ve done,” he told his supporters. “We’ve never had a president who has said or done some of the things this guy has said.”

Biden took advantage of his visit to promote the economic achievements of his administration, known as Bidenomics. The president argued that both inflation and unemployment have fallen. He said that Nevada had created 274,000 jobs that had been lost during the Covid-19 pandemic and added another 124,000, claiming more people were working in the state than ever before.

But his government has had a hard time selling ordinary citizens on the macroeconomic benefits of his economic rescue program. In Nevada, Biden pledged to make housing more affordable, one of the biggest concerns for the thousands of Americans who are worried about the dizzying rise of rent. His administration intends to inject $1 billion into the American Rescue Plan (ARP), an entity tasked with that goal. Seventy percent of the resources will be allocated to homes for older adults. In Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, developments are being built with 200 affordable housing apartments and about 1,000 apartments for senior residents, according to the White House.

Falling popularity

In Arizona, Biden chose an old Mexican restaurant in Phoenix to send a message to Latino voters. “You’re the reason why in large part I beat Donald Trump [...] Anybody that doesn’t pay attention to [Latinos] is stupid,” the president said inside El Portal, which opened its doors in 1947 and is decorated with brightly colored murals, one of them of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The business is owned by two veteran Democrats and activists, Mary Rose and Earl Wilcox. They have organized fundraisers for other party candidates, such as Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs and Ruben Gallego, who is hoping to win the Senate seat held by Kyrsten Sinema.

Arizona is one of the states that upended Trump’s bid for reelection in 2020. Biden won the state — until then a safe Republican bastion — by just 11,000 votes. This win was possible thanks to the growth of the Latino electorate and traditional Republicans’ anger at Trump’s disrespect for Arizona’s influential former senator John McCain. Twenty-five percent of Arizona voters are Latino. Biden and Kamala Harris have focused a large part of their campaign on this swing state. The vice president visited the region on March 8 to talk about another priority: women’s reproductive rights.

Biden dedicated part of his 12-minute speech in El Portal to remembering how Trump burst into politics in 2016. “He called Latinos criminals, drug dealers and rapists. What the hell is he talking about? The reason we are the way we are is because we’re the most diverse country in the world,” said the president, who will announce on Wednesday a $7-billion grant for Intel to expand its chip production in the United States.

Julie Chávez Rodríguez, the head of the Biden and Harris campaign, believes that the Latino vote is vital for the Democrats to win in 2024. The campaign to win over Latino voters wants to show that the administration is investing in their community. This includes TV ads in Spanish during prime time and during sporting events. Additionally, Texas Congresswoman Verónica Escobar will become the spokesperson for issues of importance to Latinos, who make up nearly 19% of the U.S. population.

The campaign hopes to stop Biden’s declining support among Latinos. A survey conducted by Axios and Telemundo found that 32% of these voters do not believe that either the Democrat or Republican Party represent their interests. The figure has risen from 25% a year ago.

Specialists like Nate Silver, the founder of the election blog FiveThirtyEight, believe that Biden only has a 7% lead over Trump among Latino voters. Four years ago it was 25%. Additionally, there is growing support for Trump among Latinos: 32% of those surveyed view the former president positively. At a rally last weekend, the Republican candidate said that immigrants were “not people.”

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