Is Trump’s Florida Rally the Real Reason No One Watched the GOP Debate?

Trump arrived over an hour late and began by mocking the debate’s low ratings: “Nobody’s talking about it.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the TV audience for the third Republican presidential primary debate decreased significantly on Wednesday. The Republican debate had 7.5 million viewers across multiple platforms, down from 9.5 million for the second debate.

Advisers, speaking anonymously, reveal that Trump sometimes chose not to debate despite wanting to. During Wednesday’s rally, Trump asked the audience if they believed he did the right thing by not participating, to which the crowd responded with cheers.

Trump has leveraged his strong poll standings to justify skipping the GOP debates. Instead, Trump decided to host his own event, which he argued was more challenging than debates.

His Wednesday night rally served to display Trump’s support among Latino voters in Hialeah, a locality with a significant Cuban-American demographic. Dedicated supporters had gathered early for the rally, some even a day ahead. Trump’s presence was bolstered by personalities like fighter Jorge Masvidal and comedian Roseanne Barr. Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s ex-press secretary, introduced him, lauding his mentorship.

Addressing the primarily Cuban-American crowd, Trump criticized Biden’s foreign policy, particularly towards Cuba, claiming his efforts were saving American democracy. “We are not the ones endangering American democracy. We are the ones saving American democracy from these terrible people.”

Trump also said that the Democrats are going after Catholics. Trump’s success among Cuban voters in Florida has been significant, contributing to the state’s conservative shift, a trend Democrats aim to reverse in upcoming elections.

Trump’s campaign is focused on strengthening his 2024 position and dismissing his rivals as non-factors.

Senior Trump adviser Chris LaCivita emphasized the campaign’s intent to garner an even larger share of the Hispanic vote, building on the gains made in 2020. The campaign’s strategies include targeted advertising and outreach to highlight Trump’s stances on economic, border, and cultural issues. Hialeah’s predominantly Hispanic population, with a strong Cuban presence, reflects the broader political dynamics of Miami-Dade County, which has recently leaned Republican.

A recent AP VoteCast data indicates substantial Latino support for GOP figures in Florida, with DeSantis and Rubio both securing over half of the Latino vote in their respective 2022 races. Voters at the rally appreciated DeSantis’s stance on COVID-19 policies but noted his aggressive tactics.

Trump’s outreach to the Cuban electorate has been consistent, with the community generally leaning Republican. Trump’s presidency saw a hard stance against socialist regimes in Latin America, a narrative he continues to push. Following a legal appearance in Miami, Trump was warmly received at Versailles, a Cuban landmark in Little Havana.

Commissioner Kevin Marino Cabrera, who spoke at Trump’s rally, praised Trump’s direct voter engagement. Florida International University’s Dario Moreno observed that Trump’s crowd was expectedly enthusiastic and supportive, underscoring Trump’s ability to eclipse his debate-engaged counterparts.