'I really don't think he has done a great job': COVID-19 puts Florida at risk for Trump

By Michael Finnegan, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

Joseph Wieder, a retired construction worker and Marine veteran who lives on Social Security here in Pinellas Park, said Trump did "all that a man could possibly do to look out for the American people" when the pandemic hit. The screensaver on his mobile phone is a picture of Jesus enveloping Trump in his robe.

"We ought to make him king," said Wieder, a Republican wearing a "Make America great again" cap on a visit to Sam's Club. He warned of violence if Biden wins.

"If the Democrats end up stealing this election, and that's what it would be, through their diabolical ways, there will be war," Wieder said.

Ed Henderson, 62, a conservative independent voter from Georgia, moved last year to Clearwater, Florida, where he works at a deli counter. Relaxing with a bottle of Coors at a marina dock, he said it was disappointing that the pandemic halted Sunday services at the Baptist church where he'd been making friends, but he did not fault Trump.

"He's not a friggin' doctor; he's a businessman," he said.

Henderson, who abhors abortion, is glad Trump has a chance to name a third Supreme Court justice. "It's even more critical, in my point of view, that Trump wins," he said.


Biden, for his part, is banking on intense anti-Trump passion in Democrats' urban and suburban strongholds - Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties and Tampa, Orlando and Tallahassee.

"I would have a root canal, poke my eyes out and set my hair on fire before I'd vote for him," said retiree Melody Urso, 69, a Democrat walking her Yorkie, Rosie, in Dunedin, a beach town north of St. Petersburg.

Another top target for the former vice president is Florida's growing population of Puerto Ricans, many of them upset by Trump's hostile and racially charged response after Hurricane Maria hit two years ago. Last week, Trump announced the release of $13 billion in federal aid to the U.S. territory for disaster recovery.

Polls showing Trump performing relatively well among Florida's diverse patchwork of Latinos have unnerved some Democrats. Biden, who has limited travel out of concern over the virus, campaigned outside Orlando last week with Puerto Rican pop star Ricky Martin.


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