President Donald Trump will make stops in two South Florida cities on Friday, visiting a part of the country that has quickly become a hotbed in the battle with the coronavirus pandemic.
Air Force One landed with Trump on board at Miami International Airport shortly after 12 p.m., where he was met by a group that included Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez.
Trump attended an event at U.S. Southern Command in Doral and reviewed the advance of a counternarcotics operation in the Caribbean during the visit.
After that, the President attended a roundtable event at a Doral church where he will spoke with Cuban and Venezuelan dissidents before taking a short flight to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
At the campaign-organized event focusing on Venezuela, Trump criticized former President Barack Obama's efforts to lift some sanctions against Cuba and warned that the presumptive Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, would take a similar approach and even embrace socialism domestically.
Trump reversed some but not all of Obama's efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, an ally of the Maduro regime.
“Republicans are the party of freedom and Democrats are the party of socialism and worse,” Trump said.
Trump was expected to travel to a high dollar fundraiser in Hillsboro Beach, a small oceanside town in Broward County that voted for him by nearly 58% in 2016. The Washington Post reported a table at the fundraiser could cost couples up to $580,000.
“Florida is unique in the sense that it’s a swing state...and it’s also an ATM state for politicians who need money for their campaigns," said NBC 6 political analyst and former U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo.
The President’s visit comes at a hectic time, particularly as Miami-Dade continues to see a rise in coronavirus cases after it’s rebounded in the area. There’s also the recent flap over Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro, who Trump recently said he’s open to meeting Maduro, adding later only to discuss his exit.
“This trip gives him the opportunity to highlight some of the administration’s work on Venezuela and to sure up some support…after the President sent some mixed signals recently,” said Curbelo.
The Florida Democratic Party called the event a “photo op,” adding if Trump really wanted to help Venezuelans, he should halt deportation and detention of people trying to flee Maduro.