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Biden To Texas Dems: 'I Think We Have A Real Chance To Turn The State Blue'

In this Sunday, March 15, 2020, file photo, former Vice President Joe Biden participates in a Democratic presidential primary debate at CNN Studios in Washington.
Evan Vucci
Associated Press
In this Sunday, March 15, 2020, file photo, former Vice President Joe Biden participates in a Democratic presidential primary debate at CNN Studios in Washington.

Calling Texas an “important battleground” that he thinks he can win in November, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden spoke to the virtual Texas state Democratic Convention in a recorded speech on Saturday. 

The former vice president started his speech addressing the coronavirus pandemic and the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, then spent a significant portion of his remarks addressing Latino Democrats. 

He brought up the imminent Supreme Court decision on President Trump’s ending of the DACA program, which allows relief from deportation to some young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. 

“Let me tell you something, as President, I will protect Dreamers and their families,” he said. “On day one I will introduce immigration reform, making sure we protect Obamacare, rebuild our economy, and ways to bring everybody along.”

He called President Trump’s agenda anti-Latino and anti-immigrant, citing the president’s efforts to reduce health care benefits, build a wall on the Mexican border, and reduce border crossings by separating children from their parents.

Latinos make up about 40% of the Texas population.

Democrats have long waited for demographic change to turn statewide Texas campaigns into real contests. The state has 38 electoral votes. A Democratic presidential candidate has not won in Texas since 1976. President Trump won the state by 9 points in 2016.

A recent Quinnipiac poll showed Biden trailing President Trump by one percentage point in the state. 

Biden used his speech to Texas Democrats as an opportunity to repeat his mantra that “the very soul of this nation is at stake” in the election. It was also at the center of remarks he made in response to the death of Floyd and the Trump administration’s use of law enforcement and National Guard troops to forcibly remove peaceful protesters ahead of a photo-op for the president near the White House.

“The stakes in this election have never been higher for our country. We have to work harder than ever, harder than ever,” Biden said Saturday. “We need to stand up as a nation, stand with the black community, of all communities of color. Come together as one America to deliver justice for all Americans.”

Earlier in the day, the Texas Republican Party tweeted that President Trump “has delivered massive tax cuts, protected our energy independence, and fought for our #2A rights” a reference to the Second Amendment. Biden, they said, “may think he has TX in his pocket but this is #TrumpCountry.”

Speaking to reporters earlier in the day, veteran Democratic political consultant Paul Begala said Biden is perfectly suited to go up against Trump.

“When we replace a president, we want the remedy, not the replica,” said Begala. “And Joe is the remedy for Trump. I consider him to be the most potent anti-toxin I’ve ever seen.”

Democrats in Texas opted for a virtual convention to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. The state GOP is still planning an in-person convention July 16 to 18 in Houston.

Copyright 2020 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Bret Jaspers is a reporter for KERA. His stories have aired nationally on the BBC, NPR’s newsmagazines, and APM’s Marketplace. He collaborated on the series Cash Flows, which won a 2020 Sigma Delta Chi award for Radio Investigative Reporting. He's a member of Actors' Equity, the professional stage actors union.