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Biden campaign says Florida remains ‘in play’ after reelection chief said it’s no battleground state

'Florida is a state that Joe Biden is investing in, he is competing in,' said Kevin Munoz, Biden-Harris national spokesman
Posted at 6:04 PM, Jun 25, 2024

Florida Democrats and the Biden-Harris campaign are in damage control mode Tuesday. That’s after the president’s reelection chair, Jen O’Malley Dillon, said Florida isn’t a battleground this year.

It was a counter to statements both state and national party leaders have made for months.

The exchange happened during the most recent episode of John Heilemann’s political podcast hosted by Puck News. It was exactly the comment Florida Democrats didn’t want to hear — from the head of the presidential campaign they’re working hard to boost.

JH: “North Carolina is a battleground state?”
JOD: “Yes.”
JH: “Florida?”
JOD: “No.”
JH: “Thank you— I was afraid you were going to lie.”
JOD: “Jesus.”
JH: “We’re going with all our time on Florida… Okay, so, it’s seven.”
JOD: “I have a point of view on Florida, but…”
JH: “But it’s seven [battleground states]—“
JOD: “Yeah.”

The position seems to dismiss what the Biden campaign has said in the past— sending out an April memo highlighting “Biden’s Opening in Florida,” stressing the state’s six-week abortion ban would help drive up turnout and boost Biden’s chances. It also feels like cold water on what Democrats, including DNC Chair Jamie Harrison, told us just last week.

“The stars are aligning, the planets are aligning, and Florida, Florida, Florida is going to be in that mix,” said Harrison during an exclusive interview. “And it's going to be one of the states that people all across the country will be watching very closely in November.”

In a statement about the comments, Florida Democrats Chair Nikki Fried tried to reaffirm the state party was moving in the right direction.

“Florida Democrats are doing the real work required to take back Florida,” Fried said, touting renewed grassroots effort. “This November, we’re going to restore reproductive rights, legalize cannabis, defeat Rick Scott, and break the Republican supermajority — and we know that Donald Trump can’t win the presidency without winning Florida. We’re not naive about the challenges ahead, but we’re building the foundation of Democratic success, not just for this cycle, but for the years and decades to come. Don’t count Florida out.”

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DNC chair predicts Florida in play come November; Why GOP says think again

Forrest Saunders
10:22 AM, Jun 19, 2024

Biden-Harris campaign advisors, meanwhile, were working hard to push back on doubts about Florida’s relevance. They highlighted at least eight ads running in the state, recent up-staffing, and said they’ll have 13 campaign offices in Florida by the end of the week. Though states like Wisconsin already have more than 45.

“Florida is in play,” said Kevin Munoz, Biden-Harris national spokesman. “Florida is a state that Joe Biden is investing in, he is competing in.”

Munoz said the campaign “was under no illusion that this would be an easy state for Democrats or Joe Biden to win.” But, despite the battleground comments from his boss, he stressed that Florida wasn’t getting written off.

“If you talked to me around this time in 2020, you would not have heard me talk about the fact that we were going to win Georgia and Arizona,” said Munoz. “The fact of the matter is this is going to be a dynamic campaign, and smart, winning campaigns preserve every way to get to 270 electoral votes.”

Florida Republicans have also relished the opportunity to take shots. Gov. Ron DeSantis posted online that Florida’s battleground status was over. Florida GOP Chair Evan Power said in a statement, “The Biden campaign is clearly waving the white flag in Florida.”

His comments echoed what Power told us last week about Biden’s chances here. With a margin of more than 900,000 registered voters over their rivals, the Republican encouraged Democrats to invest in Florida.

“I welcome them to spend all the money,” said Power. “I don't think we have to spend at the level they do. Our grassroots are engaged. The movement to Republicans in Florida is organic — not contrived by media and whatever schtick of the day Nikki Fried has going on.”

One thing that continues to give Florida Democrats momentum — no matter what pundits and operatives say, recent polling shows Biden and Trump look to be within striking distance of each other. Depending on the outlet, Biden is down between six to four points, better than many expected this cycle.