TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden held a roundtable with local veterans at Hillsborough Community College on Tuesday.
The visit was Biden’s first trip to Florida since becoming the nominee, at a time when recent polls show him in a close race with President Trump in the Sunshine State.
Biden touted his record during the Obama Administration, including the veterans choice legislation in 2014 and his efforts to help veterans exposed to Agent Orange.
“Trump likes to say he passed VA choice, but just like everything else, it’s a figment of his imagination or a lie,” Biden said.
The former vice president also talked about what it’s like to be a military family.
“It’s personal,” Biden said. “The year that my son Beau deployed with the National Guard, that’s when you learn what it means to be part of a military family. Praying every night and day for your loved one to come home… These are challenges most Americans don’t have to face.”
Outside HCC about an hour before the event was scheduled to begin, more than a hundred Trump supporters lined the sidewalk, waving flags and chanting “four more years” in support of the president.
At the time, there were only about a dozen Biden supporters along Tampa Bay Boulevard, standing across the parking lot entrance from the Trump supporters.
More than a dozen Trump supporters surrounded three Biden supporters, screaming and getting in their faces. One woman who was dressed in Trump gear claimed she was pushed by a woman who was a Biden supporter. She then began pushing a man holding a “Republicans 4 Biden” sign.
At one point, about a dozen Trump supporters surrounded Donna McKenna of Clearwater, arguing with her about her support for Biden. When she proclaimed “I love my country,” several of them hugged her.
“I do,” McKenna told 8 On Your Side. “I love this country as much as anyone else. It hurts me that we are this divided, this hateful towards each other.”
Some of the Trump supporters said they were Cuban-Americans who wanted to voice their choice for president.
“I’m here to show Joe Biden that Latinos support Trump and what he has in store for the Hispanic community,” said Angel Fernandez.
Near 1:30 p.m., when the Biden event was scheduled to begin, a parade of several dozen cars supporting Biden rolled past the sidewalk of Trump supporters.
They drove to the end parking lot on Tampa Bay Boulevard and lined the sidewalk there, playing loud Latin music and waving their own Biden/Harris flags.
After the event, Biden continued to Kissimmee for a Hispanic Heritage Month event.
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