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Biden and Trump vie for Latino support with very different pitches

Biden, Trump vie for Latino voters in Arizona
Biden, Trump focus on securing pivotal Latino vote 03:55

At El Portal, a Mexican restaurant in Phoenix, President Joe Biden made a direct plea to Latino voters. 

"I need you badly. I need the help," he told the crowd, as he launched his campaign's Latino voter outreach organization Tuesday. "You're the reason why — in large part — I beat Donald Trump."

Earlier in the day, he sought to underline the differences between his candidacy and that of former President Donald Trump, repeating arguments he's made about Trump's character. 

"This guy despises Latinos," Mr. Biden said in an interview with Univision radio. 

Trump has made inflammatory comments throughout the election cycle about undocumented immigrants, claiming they're "poisoning the blood" of the country or referring to some migrants recently as "not people."

The former president is betting that comments like these won't hurt him as he makes a play for Latino voters, who have traditionally leaned toward Democrats.

Republicans have made small gains in recent years though: the Latino vote propelled GOP candidates to victories in South Texas and South Florida in 2020 and 2022. 

"Hispanics, very entrepreneurial people," Trump told British commentator Nigel Farage Tuesday in an interview. "They like me, I like them." 

Trump and Republicans believe there's opportunity in that voting bloc to increase support, in part due to concerns about the economy, crime and immigration at the southern border. While Mr. Biden still garners the majority of support from Latino voters, his support was waned. According to a CBS News poll from late February, Mr. Biden's support among Hispanic has dropped by 12 points since 2020, from 65% to 53%.

This decline marked the steepest drop in Mr. Biden's share among the groups surveyed. 

When it comes to their own finances, 46% of Hispanic voters reported that their circumstances had worsened during Mr. Biden's tenure.

Mr. Biden's campaign is trying to get a head start in courting this key voting bloc and promoting his administration's progress on the economy months ahead of the general election. On Tuesday, the campaign launched an organization called "Latinos con Biden-Harris" across battleground states in an effort to mobilize and train Latino supporters on messaging. That same day, Mr. Biden made a swing through key Western battleground states with sizable Latino voter populations in Arizona and Nevada, where he spoke about affordable housing.

The campaign launched three versions of a targeted ad to Latinos: one in English, one in Spanish and one in "Spanglish," a mixture of the two languages. The ad, which discusses both abortion and the Biden administration's efforts to lower prescription drug prices, is part of a $30 million ad buy that began in March to target voters watching minority-owned media outlets.

"With a strong record to run on, our campaign is making sure we are doing the work to earn our community's trust and support once again in this election," said Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez in a statement about the ads.

The Trump campaign, which substantially trails the Biden campaign in cash on hand, has yet to make similar efforts. 

Trump's campaign and Republican National Committee say they continue to engage with Hispanic media outlets with a designated Hispanic communications director and surrogates, who speak on a weekly basis to targeted audiences on local and Spanish TV.

"Joe Biden no longer has a base, as key Democrat constituencies such as African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and women are supporting President Trump because they are sick and tired of Crooked Joe's record-high inflation, open borders, crime and chaos," said Karoline Leavitt, Trump campaign press secretary. 

Steve Macias, a Latino voter in Arizona who backed Trump in 2020 but is so far undecided this year, says the candidates' stances and proposals on immigration will be a deciding factor. But he's skeptical at this point about whether Mr. Biden or Trump can effectively address the influx of migrants at the southern border.

The former president, who first promised during his 2016 campaign to "build the wall" at the southern border, has vowed to deny citizenship to children with parents who are not American citizens or legal permanent residents. And he's said he'd carry out the "largest deportation operation" in U.S. history, modeled after the Eisenhower administration's "Operation Wetback" in 1954, which deported hundreds of thousands of mostly Mexican migrants.

"If you listen to Trump – it's about shut the border, deport them all. Well, that doesn't solve anything. And it's not going to happen," Macias said in a CBS News Arizona panel of undecided voters. 

For now, factors weighing against Mr. Biden for Macias and other undecided Latino voters in Arizona are the president's advanced age of 81 and their nostalgia for the economy during Trump's tenure.

"Age is a big factor for me. Trump hides it better because he's always just snappin' and talking," said Paulina Flores, who voted for Mr. Biden in 2020 but is now undecided. "Biden, sometimes he's just standing at the podium and you can tell he just lose[s] his thoughts, or he needs help to form sentences. And you're like, 'Oh.' Could we get somebody younger?'"

Olivia Rinaldi, Jacob Rosen, Weijia Jiang and Gabrielle Ake contributed to this story. 

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