Biden campaign chair contradicts president, Dems, and admits Florida is not a battleground state

 June 26, 2024

For several decades, with its 30 electoral votes, Florida was considered one of the most important battleground states that could swing in favor of Democrats or Republicans in any given election year.

That seemed to change a few election cycles ago, and now the head of President Joe Biden's re-election campaign appears to have written the Sunshine State off as unwinnable for Democrats, Fox News reported.

The surprising admission contradicted what Biden and the head of the Democratic National Committee have recently claimed about Florida being up for grabs and sparked furious pushback from other Democrats working to win the state for the party.

Is Florida a battleground state?

Fox News reported that President Biden told supporters in Tampa during an April event that he believed that "Florida's in play" in November's election, and that claim was echoed just last week by DNC Chair Jaime Harrison.

"Florida is in play. That's why I am here right now," Harrison told Tampa ABC affiliate WFTS. He noted that the DNC was "opening offices" across the state, that they "feel good about the direction that we're going," and added that "it's going to be one of the states that people all across the country will be watching very closely in November."

Yet, during a recent interview with Puck News' John Heilemann for his "Impolitic" podcast, Biden campaign Chair Jen O'Malley Dillon replied "No" when asked if the campaign considered Florida a battleground state, which prompted the host to thank her for her candor and joke that he was "afraid you were going to lie" about Florida being in play.

"An unnecessary, demoralizing gut punch" for Florida Dems

The pushback from Democrats to O'Malley Dillon's frank admission was fierce and immediate, according to Politico, as her comment sharply undermined the prevailing message from other top Democrats and even others in the Biden campaign who have insisted that Florida is "winnable" for the party.

Dan Kanninen, the battleground states director for the Biden campaign, said that Florida was "in play for President Biden and Democrats up and down the ballot." Likewise, DNC deputy communications director Abhi Rahman said Democrats were "undergoing a resurgence" in the state, and Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried claimed that people should not "count Florida out" in the coming election.

A sense of betrayal was evident in an X post from former Obama spokesman Kevin Cate, who wrote, "Not a lot of staffers, consultants, or organizers are in a position to say it, but this was such an unnecessary, demoralizing gut punch. To all @FlaDems busting it on local or statewide races, never, ever give in. Keep fighting. Keep organizing. And one day, we will flip it."

Democrats continue to insist Florida is winnable

The Hill reported that both the Biden campaign and the DNC released statements in opposition to O'Malley Dillon's admission that Florida was likely out of reach for Democrats.

"Florida is in play for President Biden and Democrats up and down the ballot. Trump and his out-of-touch loyalists are taking the state for granted, while their extreme agenda continues to increase costs and rip away Floridians’ freedoms," Kanninen said for the campaign. "The President has a strong story to tell on the issues that matter most to Floridians, which is why our campaign continues to scale up our presence and investments into the state."

Similarly, the DNC's Rahman pointed to the state's "changing and diverse electorate" and Fried's state party leadership, and said, "Recent elections -- including in a district that Republicans won handily in 2022 -- have swung towards Democrats while Florida’s cost of living surge, happening under Ron Desantis’ watch, continues to damage the livelihoods of Floridians across the state. Floridians know Trump and Desantis’ failures firsthand and Florida Republican MAGA extremism, and are ready to send Trump back to Mar-a-Lago for good in November."

Florida is likely not in play

All of that pushback may just be more gaslighting about the Democratic Party's chances in Florida, however, as most polls show former President Donald Trump has a solid lead, Republicans have swept the most important state-wide elections in recent cycles, and the GOP has built up a massive advantage in terms of voter registration, per Politico.

Brian Hughes, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, told the outlet that O'Malley Dillon's remarks were "noteworthy" as a "rare bit of honesty" that sharply undercut the "bogus Biden narrative of the state being 'in play'" that has been ongoing for months.

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