Via @AlexTDaugherty and @MartinDVassolo
Maria Elvira Salazar is trying to hug her way to Congress.
The telegenic former TV host turned Republican candidate is at Las Mercedes senior center in West Dade, a campaign stop full of elderly Cuban-American voters who helped fuel the GOP’s dominance in Miami for the last 40 years.
Everyone recognizes her. Most do not speak English.
Salazar works the room, hugging dozens who are eager to chat with someone they saw on TV for years. One asks her how she’s in such good shape for a 56-year-old.
“I don’t eat dairy,” Salazar replies with a laugh.
She is seeking to pull off an upset in the country’s most Democratic-leaning district currently under GOP control in a year where Democrats are poised to make gains in Congress. Her opponent is former University of Miami president and Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, one of the most experienced first-time congressional candidates ever.
In an era where President Donald Trump shouts “fake news” at unflattering news coverage and belittles journalists who ask him tough questions, the Republican Party is putting its faith in a woman who touts her 35-year career in news reporting — and has vowed to serve as a centrist not beholden to the conservative wing or the president.
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