Image Credit: Evan Vucci/AP
Just when you thought mixed martial arts’ dalliance with politics couldn’t get any more co-mingled.
Donald Trump Jr. and UFC star Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal are embarking on a campaign bus across South Florida dubbed the “Fighters Against Socialism” tour.
The goal is to strengthen and reaffirm a high voter turn out with Hispanics in South Florida for President Trump.
The tour kicks off Sunday at the Tampa Convention Center and has stops planned in Orlando and Coconut Creek, home of MMA powerhouse gym, the American Top Team.
The campaign ends in Miami, where they’ll be joined by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
“Gamebred” is a Miami native and a protege of the late Miami street fighting legend, Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson. He recently broke out as a star in the UFC after series of high-level wins over Ben Askren and Nate Diaz.
The latter of which was UFC 244, a fight that President Donald Trump attended at Madison Square Garden in November 2019.
Along with former teammate, UFC fighter Colby “Chaos” Covington, Masvidal has been a vocal supporter of President Trump. He has appeared at rally’s and been recognized by #45 and is a mainstay on Twitter berating what he deems to be liberals and those leaning towards the left-wing.
He echoes the support of UFC president Dana White, who has stumped for Trump at both his 2016 and 2020 Republican National Convention.
Aside from the fact that Masvidal is a willing participant of Trump’s political theater, the act is a move to sustain a Presidential campaign that has taken hits on multiple fronts.
The Cuban Strategy
According to the Pew Research Center, Cuban Americans identify as Republican. This is unlike other Hispanic registered voters in the United States.
Nationwide, 58% of Cuban registered voters say they affiliate with or lean toward the Republican Party, while 38% identify with the Democratic Party or lean Democratic, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted July 27-Aug. 2. By comparison, around two-thirds of Hispanic voters who are not Cuban (65%) identify as or lean Democratic, while 32% affiliate with the Republican Party.
Since taking office in 2017, Trump has imposed several sanctions on Cuba, including restrictions on trade, travel, and remittances. This reversed the Obama administration’s expansion of diplomatic and economic ties with the island nation.
A far higher share of Cuban voters than non-Cuban Hispanic voters say the foreign policy is very important, 76% vs. 45%, reflecting in part the close immigrant ties many Cuban Americans have to the island.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has said he would largely restore Obama-era policies toward Cuba.
This has emboldened the Cuban American population in South Florida to support President Trump even more.
As a transactional President, Trump has utilized a strategy of parading celebrities of color to bolster his numbers with the fan base they supposedly represent.
From football great, Herschel Walker to now Jorge Masvidal, Trump has always seen the path to diversity as a gilded one where his alignments with celebrities of culture invalidate his divisive racial rhetoric.
The fact that most Cuban-Americans hatred of Fidel Castro and fear of his brand of communism coming to American shores is based on pure fantasy.
Trump has always dialed up his hatred towards Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-NH) labeling them socialists to stoke that latent fear and bolster his approval in South Florida.
The fact that many in the Cuban-American community take the bait is troubling and now Jorge Masvidal is providing a face for the community to relate to.
Politics aside, Donald Trump has shown no love for Black or Brown people in America and make no mistake that his newfound affinity for Cuban-Americans is only due to the necessity of his loss in poll numbers.
Masvidal, like Colby Covington and Dana White, gambles with his athletic career in defense of an indefensible man.