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Joe Biden before a roundtable in Florida. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Joe Biden's campaign is turning its focus to Puerto Rican constituents this week, planning policy rollouts and in-person meetings as polls show his soft support with Hispanic voters in some crucial battleground states.

Why it matters: Both sides are fighting in the lead-up to the election to split the Hispanic vote. President Trump is going for Cuban-American and Venezuelan-American voters, while Biden tries to appeal to the growing number of Puerto Ricans on the mainland.

  • Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, but they're not allowed to vote in general elections if they live on the island. They become eligible to register and vote if they relocate elsewhere in the U.S.
  • Biden leads Trump by 33 points with Puerto Rican voters in Florida, per an August survey of registered Latino voters in the state commissioned for Equis, a Democratic Latino research firm.
  • Their polling also shows the president has a 17-point advantage among Cuban-Americans in Florida.

The big picture: Democrats are targeting the hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans who've relocated to places like Florida and Pennsylvania after Hurricane Maria decimated the island in 2017.

  • They're hoping to use Trump's handling of that natural disaster, his rhetoric about the island and its mayor, as well as COVID-19's disproportionate effect on the Latino community as part of their message.
  • Meanwhile, a Trump campaign ad in Spanish shows videos of Biden and other Democrats side-by-side with communist or socialist dictators like Cuba's Fidel Castro or Venezuela's Hugo Chavez as a ploy to attract those voters who fled those governments.

Driving the news: The Biden campaign released a "recovery, renewal, and respect for Puerto Rico" plan just before his Hispanic Heritage Month event in Florida on Tuesday evening.

  • Biden's Florida visit — his first since accepting the Democratic nomination for president — included a stop in Kissimmee, a heavily Puerto Rican city in the Orlando area.
  • "I am going to work like the devil to make sure I turn every Latino and Hispanic vote," Biden told reporters yesterday in Delaware. He added that his numbers with Latinos are “much higher" than Trump's. "But they gotta go higher.”
  • The Democratic Party is buying cell phone data for U.S. residents with Puerto Rico's 787 area code to better target potential voters who've left the island.
  • Tom Perez, the Democratic National Committee chairman, said on a Sunday call with senior Biden campaign officials and reporters that they've identified 80,000 numbers in Pennsylvania and 300,000 in Florida.
  • Kamala Harris, the vice presidential nominee, met with Venezuelans — whom Republicans are targeting by billing Democrats as "socialists" — during her visit to Florida last week.

Go deeper: Biden adviser on Hispanic vote: "We know we have work to do."

Go deeper

Updated Dec 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

The Republicans who acknowledged Biden's win after the Electoral College vote

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is the latest Republican to accept Joe Biden as president-elect after the Electoral College affirmed his election victory on Monday.

Why it matters: Many GOP lawmakers have for weeks refused to accept Biden's win, highlighting President Trump's influence over the party, even as his efforts to overthrow the election based on false allegations of widespread voter fraud proved unsuccessful.

3 hours ago - World

Defense Sec. Austin stresses U.S. commitment to Israel's security amid growing Iran tensions

Issei Kato/Reuters/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin arrived for his first visit in Jerusalem amid nuclear talks in Vienna and growing tensions between Israel and Iran.

Why it matters: Austin met his counterpart Benny Gantz and will meet later with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss Iran and regional security issues.

"I was horrified": Leaders respond to footage of Black and Latino Army officer threatened at traffic stop

An Army officer is suing two Virginia police officers after he said they drew their guns and pepper-sprayed him during a traffic stop in December.

Why it matters: Footage of the incident has drawn widespread criticism from leaders and groups in the state. Caron Nazario, who is Black and Latino, is heard saying “I’m honestly afraid to get out," to which a police officer responds “Yeah, you should be," in a video from a body-worn camera.

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