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Biden blasted the president for doing “nothing to advance democracy and human rights” in those countries.

FLORIDA—Keenly aware that just a few thousand votes could swing the November presidential election in Florida, a key battleground state with 29 electoral votes, the Trump campaign has continued to tout hardline policies toward Cuba and Venezuela as part of its strategy to appeal to the state’s Latino voters. 

Trump’s brandishing of ‘socialism’ is particularly loaded with meaning in the Sunshine State. After escaping their countries’ harsh communist dictatorships, the state’s sizable Cuban-American and Venezuelan populations tend to be virulently opposed to communism, or even the merest hint of socialism. 

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So as early as last summer, President Donald Trump began sounding an alarm to voters in November, warning them that a vote for Joe Biden would be a vote for the radical far-left. 

He even called the former vice president a “puppet” for the so-called “socialist agenda,” despite the fact that Biden’s positions on key issues are middle-of-the-road. On healthcare, for example, Biden’s plan would retain both employer-based and private health insurance in addition to Obamacare, while on gun rights he calls for stricter background checks and a ban on assault files, but does not support mandatory buyback programs.

Trump “Inflicted Harm”

But on Sunday, during an interview with NBC’s local Miami station, Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden gave a strongly worded rebuke to the president’s accusations of being a Socialist, while slamming Trump’s “failed” policies, and pointing out that, despite Trump’s claims, Cuba has gotten worse, not better, under Trump.

“I’d try to reverse the failed Trump policies that inflicted harm on Cubans and their families,” Biden said, adding that Trump has done nothing to advance democracy and human rights in Cuba; that, on the contrary, “the crackdown on Cubans by the regime has gotten worse under Trump, not better.” 

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Biden said that as president he would pursue a policy of “empowering the Cuban people to freely determine their own outcome, their own future.” The Democratic presidential contender also promised that, as he did when he was vice president during the Obama administration, he would demand the release of all political prisoners, and “continue to be an advocate for human rights.”

Venezuelans Are “Worse Off” Under Trump

Biden also called Trump’s policy toward Venezuela “an abject failure,” expressing his belief that President Nicolás Maduro “has gotten stronger.”

“Venezuelan people are worse off, living in one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. The country’s no closer to a free election, and Trump’s incoherent approach is alienating international partners,” Biden said, adding that as president he would extend Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelans, something the Trump administration has failed to do. This would allow them to live and work legally in the U.S.

A Few Thousand Votes Could Swing the Election

With its 1.3 million Cubans, and anywhere from 60,000 to 100,000 Venezuelans, Florida is the biggest prize of the battleground states—and one Trump must win in order to be reelected.

Now a new NBC News/Marist poll shows Trump and Biden in a dead heat, with both getting the support of 48% of likely voters. Among a wider range of registered voters, Trump bests Biden by 1 percentage point (48 to Biden’s 47). 

Trump won Florida by just over 1 percentage point four years ago.