Kaine Tuesday, Trump Wednesday shows importance of Florida in presidential race

Political analyst expects candidates to focus on Florida

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In Election 2016, Florida is proving again to be an important place for the candidates for president and vice-president to come get their messages out.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine campaigned in Daytona Beach on Tuesday afternoon, and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will speak with voters in Jacksonville and Daytona Beach on Wednesday.

Kaine is back in Florida, taking the Clinton campaign's job-creation promises to the important battleground state.

In his second appearance in central Florida in 10 days, Kaine told a crowd at Daytona Beach College about shared prosperity between business owners and workers.

"As businesses succeed, it's not just the CEO taking it all himself. It's sharing," Kaine said.

He told the partisan crowd that that's a big distinction between Clinton and Trump.

"America gets to choose. Do you want a 'you’re hired' president or a 'you're fired' president," Kaine said.

Supporters in the crowd were impressed with Kaine.

"He’s a nice guy," Karen Constantine said. "He’s smart and intelligent and strong. He comes across as just the everyday nice guy, but he has a back of steel and he fights for what he believes in ... and he will fight for us."

A few of those in the standing-room-only crowd were first-time voters. Margaret Monaghan, a Bernie Sanders supporter, traveled from Orlando to hear Kaine.

"I’m not real happy with the Democratic Party myself, but we do need to stick together," she said. "We need to keep a Democrat in the White House."

A new CNN-ORC poll shows just how tight the presidential race is. Now that the conventions are over, Hillary Clinton has restored her lead over Trump in the national poll, leading him 52 percent to 43 percent, up seven points from before the conventions.

Honing in on Florida, the most recent poll from Real Clear Politics puts Clinton and Trump neck and neck, separated by only three-tenths of a percent.

With 98 days until Election Day, Florida voters should prepare themselves for regular visits from presidential hopefuls and their big name surrogates.

“Jacksonville has to be a stopping point for these candidates because without Northeast Florida being in the mix, the candidate will not be able to win Florida,” News4Jax political analyst Jennifer Carroll said. “The bottom line is this race is so tight nationally that no candidate can give any state and assume that they have that.”

Carroll said that not only is Florida a large state to navigate, but there are many different voting groups to which candidates can appeal.

“We have an immigration population, we have minorities, we have non-minorities, we have rural, urban, suburban, so those demographics are going to be appealing demographics to reach out to,” Carroll said.

Trump's rally is at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Doors open at 4 p.m.

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