In Florida, Biden to blame Trump for abortion ban

By Thomson Reuters Apr 23, 2024 | 4:04 AM

By Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden visits Tampa, Florida, on Tuesday to tie opponent Donald Trump to new abortion restrictions, hoping to boost his own chances in a state that has drifted out of Democrats’ reach in recent elections.

Earlier this month, Florida’s Supreme Court cleared the way for a six-week abortion ban starting May 1, a time-frame before many women realize they are pregnant.

Biden’s re-election campaign quickly declared battle, saying he would win the state in November because of the ban. U.S. voters overwhelmingly reject strict abortion bans, polls and state ballot initiatives show.

Abortion is a top issue in the 2024 election, and Democrats believe harsh restrictions like in Florida and Arizona, which earlier this month upheld a 160-year-old abortion ban, will push voters to back Biden.

Biden will tell Americans in Florida and nearby states their freedoms are at risk, campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez.

“When Florida’s ban takes effect, it will severely restrict reproductive health care access across the entire Southeastern United States, including neighboring battlegrounds of Georgia and North Carolina,” she added.

Abortion access is now almost nonexistent in Southern states due to new laws, nearly all of them backed by Republicans, forcing women to cross state lines.

Trump’s stance on the issue has been muddied in recent weeks. The Republican distanced himself from the Arizona ruling even as he took credit for appointing the three Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade and made state restrictions possible.


Florida has a hefty 30 Electoral College votes and for a long time was a highly coveted battleground state, but Republicans have pulled away from Democrats there in recent years.

Some Biden aides think that Democrats’ optimism in the state could be misplaced.

Trump won Florida in 2020 with 51.2% of the vote compared with Biden’s 47.9%. In 2022, Republican Ron DeSantis won the governors race in a landslide, with 59.4% of the vote.

Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried told Reuters she has seen more investments in advertising, staffing and opening new offices in the state from the Biden campaign. Biden, she said, understands the fight to win Florida “is an uphill battle, but it’s one worth taking.”

A compilation of opinion polls by FiveThirtyEight, the election data website, shows Trump with a substantial lead in Florida.

“The idea that Donald Trump has Florida in the bag could not be further from the truth. He owns not only the state of abortion rights across the country, he owns the restrictions that will play out in Florida,” Michael Tyler, the Biden campaign’s communications director told reporters on a call.

Along with the six-week ban, the Florida Supreme Court also approved an initiative to let voters decide whether to amend the state’s constitution to establish a right to an abortion. That initiative will be on the Nov. 5 ballot alongside the presidential race.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Trevor Hunnicutt, Heather Timmons and Stephen Coates)