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How Democrats plan to win the White House by fighting Trump — and doubt — in Florida

David Smiley and Steve Contorno, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

But if Trump believes Democrats are vulnerable with traditionally Democratic voters, Democrats believe Trump is vulnerable with blue-collar voters in rural Republican strongholds. Before heading to Orlando, Perez visited the Florida Panhandle, where his team filmed a campaign-style video of him talking to families living amid debris piles and in hurricane-battered trailers.

Trump signed a $19.1 billion disaster bill this month, and recently made his own visit to the Panhandle, where he announced plans to increase federal financial assistance. But two years after Hurricane Maria racked heavily Democratic Puerto Rico, Florida's liberal party is now trying to highlight how little federal aid has come to northwest Florida more than seven months after it was hit by a Category 5 storm.

"What I saw there was sheer incompetence," Perez said in a speech during the party's gala.

For Florida Democrats, the question now is whether the party can competently execute its own plan, and whether that plan is competently put together. Perez told a packed ballroom Saturday night that as long as they stay on message about what Democrats are doing for the country and the state, they'll like the results come 2020.

"Some reporter asked me the other day when I was up in Tallahassee, 'Are you going to give up on Florida because you lost in 2016?'" Perez said. "I told him 'Hell, no!' We are redoubling our efforts in Florida. And what we are doing, and how we are doing it, is how we will win."


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