Biden campaign chair admits Florida is not a 2024 battleground state in candid moment

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Biden campaign chair admits Florida is not a 2024 battleground state in candid moment

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President Biden’s campaign chair appeared to wave the white flag early on Florida in a new interview, saying the country’s third-most populous state is not a battleground in 2024.

Asked by Puck’s John Heilemann on his podcast whether the campaign saw Florida as a battleground state, Jen O’Malley Dillon replied, “No.” 

Heilemann joked he was afraid Dillon was “going to lie” and thanked her for her candor.

The remark contradicts rhetoric from other top Democrats and even Biden himself, who told supporters in Tampa in April that “Florida’s in play, nationally.”

“I think the job of the campaign is to keep as many battleground states in play for as long as possible, so we can navigate any flexibility in the race,” Dillon said on “Impolitic with John Heilemann,” released Friday.

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Jen O’Malley Dillon, then-White House deputy chief of staff, and Jake Sullivan, White House national security adviser, left, follow behind US President Joe Biden, not pictured, on the South Lawn of the White House before boarding Marine One in Washington, DC, US, on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 (Getty Images)

Dillon told Heilemann she viewed North Carolina as a battleground, and she also agreed that Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia and Nevada were top campaign targets. Biden won all of those states except North Carolina in 2020 en route to defeating Trump. 

Dillon managed Biden’s 2020 campaign, but it looked like she was conceding Florida early this time.

Long one of the country’s most hotly contested battlegrounds, former President Trump narrowly won Florida in 2016 over Hillary Clinton and then won by a more comfortable margin in 2020 over Biden. Further proof the state had gone from purple to red came when Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis was re-elected in a landslide in 2022, after winning a tight race in 2018. 

Republican Sen. Rick Scott’s election in 2018 gave Florida two GOP U.S. Senators for the first time since Reconstruction. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio also sailed to re-election in 2022 over his Democratic challenger.

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Florida’s size makes it one of the most expensive states in the country to advertise and campaign in, but its 30 electoral votes are a large prize for the victor.

Dillon’s interview drew considerable attention, and at least one progressive communicator was angry that she appeared to be quitting on Florida, Politico reported.

Biden, Trump

Former President Trump won Florida in 2020 over President Biden. (Getty Images)

Former Obama spokesperson Kevin Cate fumed on X, “Writing Florida off through a paywalled Puck News article while @FloridaForBiden staff are on the ground organizing here is not great. Not a lot of staffers, consultants or organizers are in a position to say it, but this was such an unnecessary, demoralizing gut punch.”

The Hill also noted Democratic National Committee chair Jaime Harrison had just given an interview to a local ABC affiliate where he was bullish on Florida, in spite of poor voter registration indicators and recent major election results where Democrats were thumped.

“Florida is in play,” Harrison told ABC Action News last week. “That’s why I am here right now.”

Florida has long been considered one of the most important battleground states in presidential elections. From 1964 to 2016, the winner of the state also won the White House in every election except 1992. That trend ended in 2020, when Trump lost the general election to Biden after winning Florida.

The last Democrat to win Florida in a presidential election was Barack Obama in 2012, when he beat Mitt Romney by less than one point.

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The Biden campaign’s battleground states director, Dan Kanninen, released a statement to media outlets that Florida is “in play for President Biden and Democrats up and down the ballot.”

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“Trump and his out of touch loyalists are taking the state for granted, while their extreme agenda continues to increase costs and rip away Floridians’ freedoms,” he said.

Fox News Digital reached out to the Biden campaign for additional comment.

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