FL Democratic Chair Nikki Fried Affirms Confidence in Biden Post-Debate


With the conclusion of the first debate leading up to the 2024 presidential election, party leaders in both the Democratic and Republican factions are frantically analyzing the performances of Joe Biden and Donald Trump, the respective nominees. Biden’s performance in particular has received scrutiny for appearing to some to reflect a declining sharpness as he ages. Though Trump is less than three years younger than Biden, pundits largely agreed Biden was the less succinct of the two.

One party leader tasked with navigating the aftermath of a less-than-stellar debate performance by the incumbent Biden is Florida Democratic Chair Nikki Fried. In comments reported by FloridaPolitics, Fried maintained that Biden is the clear choice in his general election rematch versus Trump.

“The more people hear from Donald Trump, the more they remember how much they dislike him,” Fried said in a pre-written statement. “He spent the entire debate lying about his record, bragging about overturning Roe v Wade, and refusing to answer questions about accepting election results — and a Univision focus group of undecided Latino voters left the debate almost 100% behind President Biden.”

As Fried mentioned, the decision of Latino voters will likely be key in Florida’s allegiance this election. Florida’s Cuban-American voters in particular supported Trump with a 56-41 majority over Biden in 2020, triggering Florida’s reddest showing in a presidential election since 2004.

“The choice this November is clear: giving the nuclear codes to an unhinged felon like Donald Trump, or re-electing President Biden and his clear vision to move America forward,” Fried continued. “Florida Democrats will do everything possible to make that choice clear between now and November.”

In a state that’s seen notable shifts to the right ever since Trump’s statistically-improbable 2016 election win, Fried remains one of the few Democratic politicians in the state with major victories under her belt. Elected Agriculture Commissioner in 2018, Fried still holds the most recent victory for a Florida Democrat in a statewide election. She was Gov. Ron DeSantis’ chief sparring partner in Tallahassee, before running to take his job in 2022. She was bested in the Democratic primary by Charlie Crist, before being elected party chair the following February.

“My mother always told me that she can handle anything besides a liar,” Fried said on her X profile following the debate. “Trump spent the entire evening lying and not answering questions. One thing continues to be true, Trump is an existential threat to democracy.”

Fried’s avoidance of directly praising Biden’s debate performance is representative of the broader messaging strategy of prominent Democrats. A YouGov poll after the debate showed three in ten Democrats thinking a different nominee would boost their chances. Even some of Biden’s closest allies are instead drawing attention away from the importance of debates, and onto the candidates’ comparative track records. “Bad debate nights happen,” said former President Barack Obama on X. “But this election is still a choice between someone who has fought for ordinary folks his entire life and someone who only cares about himself.”

Still, some metrics indicate the debate wasn’t unsalvageable. CNN, who hosted the telecast of the debate, posted mixed polling numbers afterward with some categories showing their viewers favored Biden.