On Sunday, Marco Rubio attended Calle Orange, an Orlando, Florida, street festival popular among the city’s Puerto Rican community. The Republican senator and former presidential candidate is currently locked in a tight race with Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy and is struggling to capture Latino support. While Florida’s large Cuban American population broadly supports Rubio, who is Cuban American himself, the state’s many Puerto Rican voters skew heavily Democrat. Rubio has further alienated these voters by endorsing Donald Trump, who has referred to Latinos in disparaging terms and favored policies anathema to their community. It’s no surprise, then, when Rubio took the microphone, the heavily Puerto Rican crowd promptly and vigorously booed him offstage:
NPR’s Adrian Florido was on the scene and asked the audience about their reaction. “Latinos might have differences amongst each other, but we’re also united as one,” one man said, noting that he resented Rubio endorsing Trump. “And when we have someone like Trump, who hits our Mexican brothers, our Latino brothers, then you jump on that bandwagon after all that stuff he says not only about you personally … as a Latino, you’re a freaking sellout. I would not vote for him if they paid me.”
“He’s from the party of Trump,” another audience member told Florido. “I’ve never belonged to any political party, but this year, I’m inclined toward the Democrats. The little I’ve seen of Trump and the Republicans and how hard they’ve made it for immigrants has left me unconvinced with them.”
Florida has long been a critical state on the path to the presidency, and Republicans routinely rely on its Cuban American population to tilt the state red. But Puerto Ricans are set to outnumber Cuban Americans in Florida within four years—and in two incredibly tight races, they may already have the opportunity to tilt the state both against Trump and Rubio.