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Growing antipathy to Trump among Florida's seniors as virus rages

by Leonor Pickett (2020-12-04)


A resident of The Villages, Florida, holds a "Biden Harris 2020" campaign poster, as he participates in a golf cart parade to celebrate the nomination of Joe Biden for Democratic presidential candidate and Kamala Harris for vice president

It should have been an idyllic retirement in coastal Florida for Gregory and Elvira Zec.

Instead, they are contemplating a future overshadowed by fear because of a Covid-19 outbreak that has laid low friends and family alike.

Like other seniors, they are high risk for the raging coronavirus epidemic that has killed 216,000 Americans and turned many of the elderly against President Donald Trump in a crucial election year.

"The big thing for me is the coronavirus because that is killing a lot of people and it's getting worse," said Zec, 69, who lives with his 72-year-old wife in Sarasota on Florida's west coast.

He said several of his friends and relatives had fallen sick from the virus, and some ended up in intensive care.

"Looks like by the end of the year as many people will be dead from this as from World War II," Zec told AFP.

Some 405,000 Americans were killed between 1941 and 1945 as a direct result of the war, mostly in combat, and public health experts have arrived at a similar projection for the year-end Covid-19 death toll in the US.

Around 15,600 people have died of the disease so far in Florida.

"I don't want to be one and I don't want my wife to be one," said Zec.

"The magnitude is big."

Zec worked for 35 years in the pharmaceutical industry and did not want to say who he voted for in 2016. But he said there was no way he would be voting for Trump on November 3.

How the 74-year-old president dealt with his own infection, stage-managing his return from hospital to the White House in a helicopter, did not help either.

"When he got off the helicopter, I thought it was pathetic," said Zec.

"He had a lot of spray tan on, makeup which I don't like to see in a man, and standing on a balcony reminded me of Benito Mussolini," the Italian fascist leader.

- Key state, but unpredictable -

Opinion polls suggest that older voters are slowly moving closer to supporting Trump's opponent, Democrat Joe Biden.

Seniors in Florida, a crucial state in US elections, are traditionally conservative and Republican, but this year President Trump's mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic is pushing many to support Democrat Joe Biden instead

A Quinnipiac survey on October 7 showed a comfortable advantage for Biden over Trump of 55 to 40 percent among voters aged 65 or over in Florida.

Eyeing that shift, Biden made a flying visit to Florida Tuesday to address seniors.

"The only senior that Donald Trump cares about is the senior Donald Trump," the 77-year-old Democrat told a small gathering at a retirement community center in Pembroke Pines, north of Miami.

"He's never been focused on you," Biden said.

"You are expendable, you are forgettable, you are virtually nobody. That's how he sees this."

Wearing a face mask to reduce the risk of coronavirus, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden addressed supporters in Florida, hoping to capilatize on increasing disullusionment among seniors with incumbent Republican Donald Trump

Eduardo Gamarra, a lecturer in political science at Florida International University, said he was wary of the trend toward Biden as the situation remains "very volatile."

But he said "there has been movement, especially among the over-65s... and that is probably due to the issue of the pandemic."

Florida, with 14 million voters, has historically had a high proportion of older citizens in the United States (20.5 percent) because of all the pensioners who come to its balmy climate for their retirement.

It is crucial in elections because it carries 29 of the 270 electoral college votes needed to win the White House, and its results are difficult to predict.

In 2000, the Republican candidate George W.

If you loved this information and you would such as to obtain even more information relating to but who want less stress in their retirement or perhaps need a little help. We also serve our low income community members. kindly visit our own internet site. Bush won the White House by just 537 votes in Florida, while in 2016 Trump won the state with a margin of 1.4 points.

The president risked angering pensioners on Tuesday when he mocked Biden by tweeting a crudely faked picture purporting to show Biden in a wheelchair surrounded by elderly wheelchair-bound people.

- To see the grandkids or not -

"Florida seniors now hold the keys to the White House," said Lorraine Tuliano, president of the Orlando chapter of the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans.

"It's been a rather devastating seven months. We are staying home, we only go out for necessities," she said.

"I haven't seen my mother and my family for seven months... I don't think the Trump administration understands how regular people live."

Seniors who backed Biden in Florida have held golf cart rallies in The Villages near Orlando, the largest retirement community in the state, and a bastion of Trump supporters.

The Villages, the largest retirement community in Florida, is a bastion of support for Donald Trump but backing for his Democratic opponent Joe Biden is growing as the coronavirus affects seniors first and foremost

Vice President Mike Pence went to The Villages on Saturday where he called on supporters not to heed the polls and to vote to ensure that "America remains America."

A small airplane flew over the Pence gathering trailing a banner for the community's 100,000 residents to read.

It said: "Pence is why you can't see your grandkids."