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Candidates set sights on Florida’s big primary prize

March 12, 2016 at 6:32 PM EDT
Tuesday's Florida primary elections will be the biggest prize for the presidential candidates. At stake for Democrats are 246 delegates, while all 99 delegates will go to the Republican winner, regardless of the margin of victory. South Florida Sun-Sentinel reporter Anthony Man, joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss.

HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton campaigned in Missouri and Ohio today, while Bernie Sanders campaigned in Missouri and Illinois.

The biggest prize among the five states holding presidential primaries Tuesday is Florida. For Democrats, the Sunshine State offers 246 of the delegates needed to win the party’s nomination, and, as always, the Democratic Party will award them in proportion to the candidate’s share of the popular vote.

For Republicans, all 99 of the Republican Party’s delegates will go to the winner, no matter his margin of victory.

Joining me now to discuss the Florida primary is Anthony Man, a political reporter from the “South Florida Sun Sentinel.”

So, the candidates are not right where are you today, but how hectic has this campaign traffic been?

ANTHONY MAN, SUN SENTINEL: It has been incredible. It has just been very, very campaign-centric, candidate-centric.

HARI SREENIVASAN: What are the top issues facing Floridians?

ANTHONY MAN: The top issues facing Floridians really are similar to the things that we’re hearing about elsewhere in the country. There’s this general kind of anger and agitation at government. I hear that a lot on the Republican side. And there is some general concern about the economy.

We’ve had a comeback in Florida from the depths of the Great Recession, but not the greatest jobs in the world. They aren’t paying tremendously well. Housing is rebounding, but that makes it more expensive here. That really is probably one of the top things on people’s mind.

A lot of people are concerned about Cuba and President Obama’s opening to Cuba. That’s a concern, particularly in Miami-Dade County, which has a lot of Cuban-American voters.

HARI SREENIVASAN: On the Republican side, it seems that this is the do-or-die state and moment for Marco Rubio and his attempts at trying to slow the momentum of Donald Trump.

ANTHONY MAN: Absolutely. He would look very bad if he didn’t win his home state. And he’s been insisting and his top advisers have been insisting now for weeks that he absolutely was going to win it. The polls pretty consistently show him behind Donald Trump, but some are within the margin of error, and he insists he can pull it off.

But he made the pitch at an event yesterday, where I saw him, that people in Florida should abandon Cruz and Kasich if they want to stop Donald Trump, and he actually conceded that voters in Ohio should do the same thing and not vote for him and not vote for Cruz if they want to stop Donald Trump. He’s really put everything on — riding on Florida.

HARI SREENIVASAN: On the Democrats’ side, how much does the diversity of the population play into the calculus here? Many of the Democrats that voted for President Obama were African-American, and right now, Hillary Clinton seems to be doing better with minority voters.

ANTHONY MAN: Right. That makes a huge difference here in Florida. We have a large African American population, a large Hispanic population — although, there are more Hispanic Republicans here in Florida than a lot of other parts of the state. But those seem to be big strongholds for her.

The campaign is working to shore up that area. They’ve had rallies with Bill Clinton in the African American community recently, and they’re on Spanish language TV to shore up support among Hispanic voters, and they’ve been targeting ads to African-American voters. And we also have an older-than-average Democratic voting population here in Florida. And older voters who really tend to turn out to vote here, they are another strong area for Hillary Clinton.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Anthony Man, a political reporter from the “South Florida Sun Sentinel” — thanks so much for joining us.

ANTHONY MAN: Thanks for having me.