Biden faces worries that Latino support slipping in Florida

FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2020, file photo supporters watch the program outside the venue where Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden is speaking, during the final day of the Democratic National Convention at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del. Bidens strength with Latino voters may be slipping, but hes betting he can overcome any weakness with this critical group of voters by assembling a broader coalition of seniors, suburbanites and African Americans. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2020, file photo supporters watch the program outside the venue where Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden is speaking, during the final day of the Democratic National Convention at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del. Bidens strength with Latino voters may be slipping, but hes betting he can overcome any weakness with this critical group of voters by assembling a broader coalition of seniors, suburbanites and African Americans. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

MIAMI – Sen. Kamala Harris' motorcade raced past Colombian neighborhoods and made a quick stop for takeout in Doral — or “Doral-zuela” as it's known locally because of its large Venezuelan population — before speeding through the Cuban stronghold of Hialeah.

But during her first trip to Florida as Joe Biden's running mate last week, Harris did little to court this region's booming — and politically influential — Latino population. She instead focused on African American leaders waiting at a historically Black university in Miami Gardens.

“You truly are the future of our country,” Harris said into a megaphone after the motorcade pulled up to Florida Memorial University, where a marching band serenaded her ahead of an hourlong discussion with local Black leaders. "You are the ones who are going to inspire us and fight for the ideals of our country.”

In America's leading presidential battleground, there's mounting anxiety among Democrats that the Biden campaign's standing among Latinos is slipping, potentially giving President Donald Trump an opening in his reelection bid. That's fueling an urgent effort by Biden, Harris and their allies to shore up older voters, suburbanites and African Americans to make up for potential shortcomings elsewhere.

New York billionaire Mike Bloomberg committed over the weekend to spend at least $100 million in Florida to help the Democratic ticket. Biden is scheduled to make his first visit to the state as the Democratic nominee on Tuesday, where he will hold a roundtable with veterans in Tampa before attending a Hispanic Heritage Month event in Kissimmee.

If Biden reclaims the upper Midwest for Democrats, he won’t need Florida to capture the presidency. But Trump has virtually no path to reelection without it, which is why the state remains a top priority for Democrats.

Concerns about Biden's strength in Florida were driven in part by an NBC-Marist poll released last week, which found Latinos in the state about evenly divided between Biden and Trump. Hillary Clinton led Trump by a 59% to 36% margin among Latinos in the same poll in 2016.

Trump ultimately beat Clinton in Florida by just over 1 percentage point.