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Tipsheet

Even Val Demings Is Running Away From Joe Biden

Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP

Just earlier this week we covered how President Joe Biden is giving a speech in Florida. He's also set to campaign for Democrats there ahead of the November midterm elections. The announcement was made last Friday, but one of the candidates, Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), who is seeking higher office by running against Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), has already pulled out of appearing with Biden. 

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This comes despite how Demings, shortly after winning the primary, spoke to CBS Miami's Jim DeFede about how it would be "pretty cool" for Biden to campaign for her. She also said during the interview that Biden "can come down and help me get my message to Floridians."

"Val Demings refuses to accept responsibility for the harm she's caused Florida. Demings' blind support of Joe Biden and the Democrats' far left agenda 100% of the time has consistently made Floridians' lives worse, and no hiding out in Washington is going to change that," said Elizabeth Gregory, communications director for Marco Rubio for Senate in a statement. 

While the House is not in session next Tuesday, on September 27, when Biden is scheduled to appear, Rep. Demings will remain in Washington, D.C. In reporting on her lack of appearance for the Orlando Sentinel, Skyler Swisher referenced Demings' campaign spokesperson Christian Slater, but said Slater "did not elaborate on her schedule or why she won’t be attending. No votes or committee meetings are scheduled for Tuesday in the U.S. House."

It's not merely the Rubio campaign suggesting that Demings wants to distance herself from the president. Swisher's piece quotes a local political scientist and professor as well:

Demings is likely trying to avoid a photo-op with the president, who is not particularly popular in Florida, said Aubrey Jewett, a University of Central Florida political scientist.

“It seems to me Val Demings does not want the race to be a referendum on Joe Biden,” Jewett said. “She wants the race to be about her and Marco Rubio.”

Demings has focused much of her messaging to voters on her tenure as Orlando’s police chief instead of her time in Congress, said Joshua Scacco, a University of South Florida professor who studies political communication.

“This is a classic strategy to run away from DC, run away from Congress,” he said. “This is consistent with the approach since she launched the campaign. She doesn’t want to make herself appear as a Washington person.”

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Even if Demings isn’t at the rally, Biden’s decision to visit could still help her campaign by energizing Democrats, Jewett said.

“If you look like you are running scared and don’t come down at all, it may raise questions in some voters’ minds,” Jewett said of Biden’s rally. “If they are not mobilized and enthusiastic, then neither Charlie Crist or Val Demings has a chance in Florida.”

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Swisher's piece seeks to provide cover in a way for Rep. Demings, and even Biden. "Demings is in a close race with Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, and polls show her gaining ground on the two-term incumbent," the piece reads at one point. "About 42% of likely midterm voters in Florida approve of Biden’s job performance, according to a Suffolk University/ USA Today poll released Wednesday," it reads at another. 

Forecasters certainly give Rubio an edge, as the race is regarded as "Lean Republican" or "Likely Republican." Decision Desk HQ also regards the race as "Likely Republican" and gives Rubio an 84.5 percent chance of winning. RealClearPolitics (RCP) shows Rubio with a polling advantage as well, of +2.8. 

While Biden may have a 42.2 percent approval rating among those likely voters according to the Suffolk University/USA Today poll, 52.2 percent still disapprove. A Civiqs poll has Biden at a 39 percent approval rating among registered voters, while 54 percent disapprove. That's all worse Biden's national approval rating, which stands at 43.2 percent, according to RCP, while 53 percent disapprove. 

It's not merely Demings who has looked to avoid the president on the campaign trail. Other Democrats have as well, especially when he had even more unpopular approval ratings. 

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Demings has not tweeted from her campaign account about not appearing beside the president. She has, however, tweeted at length about her pet issue of abortion. Not only has Demings continued to double down on her pro-abortion position, she's suggested, on multiple occasions, that it's not as important as inflation, and that that top voting issue is only important because they're "what my opponent says are important" issues. 

Charlie Crist, who is running against Gov. Ron DeSantis, is still appearing alongside Biden. 

Crist, like Demings, has been rather enthusiastic about the president. As part of his gushing on CNN following the morning he won the primary, Crist said about Biden that "he's a good man, he’s a great man, he’s a great president. I can’t wait for him to get down here. I need his help. I want his help. He’s the best I’ve ever me."

Crist is in even more dire straits, as forecasters across the board consider that race to be "Likely Republican," The RCP average in that race is at +4.8 for DeSantis. 

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