Making Tampa an early stop on his national, post-State-of-the-Union speaking blitz signals President Joe Biden does not believe Florida is a red state and he's aiming to put it back in play for Democrats in the 2024 elections, according to reports from several state and national news outlets.
The speech at the University of Tampa and "Biden's demeanor... are part of a blueprint needed to rebuild the state Democratic Party after historic losses in November," according to a story by James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat.
"During remarks in Tampa, the President disparaged both the Senator (Rick Scott) who continues to feud with him over entitlement programs, and the Governor (Ron DeSantis) who talks up his ongoing “fight” with the President routinely at press conferences," a post in Florida Politics said.
Biden challenged DeSantis to expand Medicaid in Florida, noting that “the federal government picks up 90% of the cost” and “the state only pays 10%.”
“This isn’t calculus,” Biden noted. “The only reason Medicaid expansion hasn’t happened here is politics. It’s time to get this done.”
Standing in front of two huge American flags and a sign that said, “Protect and strengthen Medicare,” Biden made clear he relishes the fight on the social benefits issues.
“I guarantee it will not happen,” Mr. Biden said of proposed cuts to the entitlement programs. “A lot of Republicans, their dream is to cut Social Security and Medicare. Well, let me say this: If that’s your dream, I’m your nightmare,” according to The New York Times.
To drive the point home, the White House placed glossy pamphlets on the seats of every attendee at the Tampa event, designed to look like the plan for a five-year expiration of all government programs put forward by Scott, one of Florida's two Republican U.S. senators, according to The Florida Phoenix, a non-profit news site based in Tallahassee.
The audience, an intimate crowd inside the small confines of Fletcher Lounge, a room inside of the university's Plant Hall, broke into cheers often throughout the 21-minute speech.
“This is an energizing kind of moment – the president’s coming,” said Susan MacManus, a political science professor emerita at University of South Florida. “It’s a big signal and I see a lot of this as really aimed at resurrecting in a way the (Florida) Democratic Party.”