MIAMI – Hours before the first Democratic presidential debate in Miami, Republican leaders had a message for South Florida voters.
"A vote for Democrat is a vote for socialism," Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez told reporters Wednesday at the landmark Versailles Restaurant in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood.
Nunez was joined by Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee.
They pointed to record-low unemployment for Hispanics and the addition of more than 436,000 new jobs in Florida as a reason why, McDaniel said, South Florida Hispanics are "thriving" under President Donald Trump and how "frightening" the Democrats' policies are to the future of the country.
"You are seeing the Democrat Party embrace socialism," McDaniel said.
Their comments come as the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are in South Florida for a two-night debate.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke are among the 10 candidates to take part in Wednesday night's debate. Former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and California Sen. Kamala Harris are among the participants Thursday night.
"We don't want to have anything to do with the likes of Bernie Sanders and his failed socialist policies, because we, the Latino community, the Hispanic folks here in South Florida, understand what that means -- and that means misery and poverty for all," Nunez said.
Nunez was born and raised by Cuban parents in Miami.
McDaniel warned of what she described as similarities between the messages from Democrats and the Cuban government.
"You've seen them lurching further left, you've seen them embrace Medicare for all, so we'll see if there's division within their party as these two debates unfold, but there is no question that they are embracing more and more government takeover," McDaniel said.
Vice President Mike Pence touted Trump's economic policies before a crowd of supporters Tuesday in Miami, where Nunez also made an appearance to help launch the "Latinos for Trump" coalition in an effort to woo Hispanic voters.