The following is a transcript of an interview with Florida Congresswoman Val Demings that aired Sunday, November 1, 2020, on “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Democratic Congresswoman Val Demings from her district in Orlando, Florida. Many see this state as a must win for the president, and Joe Biden himself says he very much wants to turn it blue. Good morning to you, Congresswoman.
REPRESENTATIVE VAL DEMINGS: Good morning, MARGARET. Great to be back with you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, this is a big state that you- that- that is in the crosshairs for Democrats. President- former President Barack Obama is making his second trip to south Florida tomorrow. Joe Biden was there on Thursday for his fourth visit. And he told the crowd, “If Florida goes blue, it’s over. It’s over.” What is it going to take for Biden to win Florida?
REP. DEMINGS: Well, let me say this, absolutely right, if Joe Biden and Kamala Harris win Florida and we would expect if we win it, we win it early in the night, then it is over for President Trump. Look, we are taking nothing, absolutely nothing for granted here on the ground. We know Florida, large swing state, battleground state has always been very close. Matter of fact, for the last 20 years in the presidential race, it’s been within one percentage point or less. Who could forget Bush Gore in 2000, where it was 537 votes? And so we were taking nothing for granted. The vice president has spent, I think, a significant amount of time here. You know, President Obama has been here as well, Dr. Biden and Kamala Harris. So we’re excited about what we are seeing on the ground. But understand me clearly, we are taking absolutely nothing for granted because we know regardless of what the numbers are, it’s going to be a close race.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, and- and looking at our CBS News estimates, it’s Black and Latino voters who aren’t voting early at the same rate as white voters, including in your district of Orlando. Our surveys have found Black voters, young Black voters are just less enthusiastic about the Democratic ticket. So how do you make up for that difference if you’re going to have to compete with President Trump getting that day-of voter coming in from rural areas, as you heard Chairwoman McDaniel say, how do you make the push and close that gap?
REP. DEMINGS: Well, about a year ago, the Florida Democratic Party started working to encourage voters to vote by mail. We know the pandemic. We did not expect to still be dealing with COVID-19, but because of the lack of leadership coming from the White House, here we are. So there was a big push to encourage our voters to vote by mail, and then from vote by mail to early vote. And so a lot of the voters who would probably be standing in the long lines and we’re excited about the long lines, don’t get me wrong, actually chose to request their ballots by mail and are returning them that way. Look, we take nothing for granted. We have to continue to communicate to our voters. We’ve been on the phone. We’ve been knocking on doors this past weekend. We’ve been having multiple virtual events, and we’re continuing to talk to the voters to help them get them- to help get them to the polls, to make sure they have a plan.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Just to be clear, are you saying–
REP. DEMINGS: And we are going to do that until the polls close on election night.
MARGARET BRENNAN: To be clear, though, that turnout just isn’t there in the way you need it to be to stay competitive. Are you saying all those ballots are just in the mail?
REP. DEMINGS: What I’m saying is that we will continue to work on making sure that every voter has the information to- that they need. We’ll remind them of the nine million people who have contracted COVID-19 due to a lack of a unified strategic plan from the White House. We will remind them of the–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
REP. DEMINGS: –230,000 people who have lost their lives, who will not be with their families during the holidays because of the lack of a unified plan. We will remind those young voters that the cost of college education needs to be regulated–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
REP. DEMINGS: –so that they’re not saddled with unbelievable debt. And so we will communicate to the voters until the polls close on election night.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. Should we expect Joe Biden to either concede or declare victory on election night? You said you will know Florida early. That’s not the case with other states.
REP. DEMINGS: That’s absolutely correct. And look, the most important thing I believe about election night is for each ballot to be counted, for each person’s voice to be heard. And you’re absolutely right, MARGARET, we should know the results from Florida–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, but that might mean that he can’t say anything on election night.
REP. DEMINGS: And- and look, one thing we know for sure is that Vice President Biden doesn’t have a problem paying- playing by the rules. I believe it has been President Trump who is trying his best now to sow disinformation and distrust in the U.S. election process. And so–
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to–
REP. DEMINGS: We want–
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about that.
REP. DEMINGS: –to make sure every ballot is counted. And we do know that that could very well take- we may not have total results–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
REP. DEMINGS: –of the race called on election night, but we have to be patient and make sure every voice is heard, every ballot is counted.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. And we are out of time. Congresswoman Demings, thank you for your time today. We’ll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.
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