Pence launches 'Latinos for Trump' coalition

MIAMI (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence told a Latino crowd today President Trump has been "a great champion of Latino and Hispanic Americans," touting the president's economic policies while warning Democrats want to bring socialism to America.

"Tomorrow night, many of [the Democratic Party's] leading candidates, and the night after that, are actually going to openly advocate for an economic system that has impoverished millions," he said at an event aimed at Hispanic voters in Miami.

"Now, Latino Americans know better than most about the cost of socialism. It's impoverished generations and stolen the liberty of millions," he added, a reference to a number of South American countries that have been roiled by socialist governments, most recently Venezuela.

Pence declared: "We must say, as the president said in his State of the Union address, America will never be a socialist country."

Pence's remarks came as part of an event launching the "Latinos for Trump" coalition, an effort to woo Hispanic voters in advance of next November's election. He told the crowd they would be "one of the most important coalitions of the 2020 campaign." The event comes a day ahead of the first Democratic presidential primary debates in Miami, and a week after President Trump had his official campaign kickoff rally in Orlando, signaling Florida's significance to his re-election hopes.

And the vice president used much of his speech to go after Democrats in advance of their first presidential primary debates this week in Miami. He said at the debates over the next two days, Democrats would "promise more taxes, more regulations" and policies like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, which he attacked as ineffective and expensive. He also attacked Democrats on abortion, noting nearly every candidate has advocated for rolling back restrictions on using taxpayer funding for abortion.

But he also made an economic pitch to the crowd, touting the record-low unemployment rates among Hispanics and what he called "a time of unbridled growth and prosperity for Latino Americans." And while the Trump administration has faced sharp criticism from Latino community leaders for its hardline immigration policies, Pence told the crowd the president was working to secure the border and "fix this broken immigration system," while "it's been the Democrats that have been denying there's a crisis at our border, that have been denying us the resources and reforms to end that crisis."