Politics

Biden campaign argues abortion rights ballot measure makes it easier to flip Florida from Trump

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(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign is celebrating a court ruling that will add an abortion rights measure to the November ballot in Florida, giving voters the chance to undo the state’s current restrictions on the procedure.

That will “help mobilize and expand the electorate in the state” based on how widely supported similar such efforts have been elsewhere, Biden aides argue.

“Protecting abortion rights is mobilizing a diverse and growing segment of voters to help buoy Democrats up and down the ballot,” Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez wrote in a memo on Monday, in part.

Exit polling previously found that the issue of abortion access was a driving factor for some voters in key battlegrounds like Michigan in 2022 — and the inclusion of the ballot initiative in Florida in November is seen by some Democrats and abortion rights advocates as helpful in driving voter turnout.

That optimism challenges recent political history: Florida shifted more conservative in key races since 2020, after years of being seen as one of the biggest battleground states in the country, with elections sometimes decided by mere hundreds of votes.

Former President Donald Trump narrowly won Florida in 2016 and then less narrowly in 2020.

In 2022, Gov. Ron DeSantis won reelection by nearly 20 points.

Until 2020, Florida had also voted for the winning presidential candidate every cycle dating back to 1996.

But recent elections indicate the state’s partisanship may be changing. After decades of Democrats holding an official edge with voter registration in the state, that flipped starting in 2021 and there are now nearly 1 million more registered Republicans, data shows.

Rodriguez acknowledged in her memo on Monday that “Florida is not an easy state to win,” but she indicated that Biden’s campaign wouldn’t need to in order to beat Trump, who faces his own challenges of winning back longtime GOP states like Arizona and Georgia.

“Winning Florida requires being strategic with resources, while putting in the work early and often to reach its many diverse constituencies. That’s exactly what Team Biden-Harris is doing,” Rodriguez wrote.

Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Biden allies and aides including Rodriguez reiterated their case for why Florida is not out of reach, despite the GOP’s success.

“Look, we’re clear-eyed about how hard it will be to win Florida,” Rodriguez said.

“But,” she argued, “we also know that Trump does not have it in the bag.”

In her memo, Rodriguez cited what she said was Biden’s support with seniors, a key voting bloc in Florida, as well as the success of some Democrats in local races, like Donna Deegan — who won Jacksonville’s mayoral election in 2023.

Floridians have rejected “MAGA politics” since the 2022 midterms, Rodriguez wrote, and Biden is in a good position to “assemble a winning coalition” of key voter groups in the state: seniors, Hispanic voters, Black voters and voters who previously supported Nikki Haley over Trump in the GOP primary.

Rodriguez also singled out issues like the cost of living, health care access and welfare programs like Social Security.

Biden allies are aiming to make reproductive rights important in 2024, too, including through a new swing state ad that links Trump to — and blames him for — the growing number of restrictive abortions bans in recent years.

“The only thing standing between Americans and a national abortion ban: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and the White House,” Rodriguez said on Tuesday, echoing what’s become a major campaign message. “These are the stakes in November, and we’re going to continue to make sure that every single voter knows them.”

On the trail, Trump often takes credit for naming three of the U.S. Supreme Court justices that voted to overrule Roe v. Wade’s guarantees for abortion access.

“We did something that was a miracle,” he said during a town hall in January, suggesting that the lack of abortions since the court ruling two years ago had “saved” millions of lives.

“Nobody has done more in that regard than me,” he said then.

But Trump has refused to give a consistent, specific response on the limits he now favors.

Trump has voiced public support for three exceptions (rape, incest and life of the mother) and he has privately expressed that he may back a 16-week national abortion ban with those three exceptions, ABC News reported in February, citing two sources.

At the time, the Trump campaign did not deny the reporting but issued a statement that said he would work to find middle ground on abortion.

Trump campaign adviser Brian Hughes said in a statement to ABC News on Tuesday that “President Trump supports preserving life but has also made clear that he supports states’ rights because he supports the voters’ right to make decisions for themselves.”

Hughes went on to knock what he said were Democrats’ far more permissive abortion policies.

ABC News’ Libby Cathey, Fritz Farrow, Lalee Ibssa and Soo Rin Kim contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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