ORLANDO, Fla. – Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton accused Republican front-runner Donald Trump on Wednesday of "making racism and hatred the hallmarks of his campaign."
Rallying supporters and volunteers in central Florida, Clinton touted her pledge to work for comprehensive immigration reform and an expansion of protection against deportations.
"I'm fighting for an America where we lift each other up again, where we have each other's backs," Clinton said. "Because when families are strong America is strong. That means keeping [immigrant] families together. That means giving them a real path to citizenship."
When a lone protester yelled complaints about the current system and slow pace of reform, Clinton raised her voice and pressed ahead.
"I'm just going to keep talking, and tell you what it is I’m going to do, okay?" she said.
To cheers, she said she is grateful for endorsements from prominent Hispanics, including singer Ricky Martin, in the face of Trump’s rhetoric, which she said demonizes Hispanic immigrants.
“We are a nation of immigrants, and we need to understand that and support it,” Clinton said.
Martin, who is Puerto Rican, endorsed Clinton on Wednesday but did not appear alongside her here. He has been a vocal critic of Trump on Twitter and elsewhere.
Trump, who maintains a home in south Florida, has called for the mass deportation of all the approximately 13 million illegal immigrants in the country and a complex screening system to let some return for work. He has promised to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.
Florida’s Puerto Rican population has roughly doubled over the past decade, and Orlando is home to a large Puerto Rican community. Clinton touted her aspirations for an economic lifeline to the poor island territory.
"Puerto Ricans are American citizens, and that’s something often overlooked and sometimes denied," she said. "We have to find a long-term solution to the economic and health care challenges facing Puerto Rico, and everyone here with ties to the island, you have to help us."
Clinton has spent little time campaigning in Florida since entering the race in April. This was only her third public event in the important swing state, and like most of the others her trip was concentrated on raising campaign money. Her organizing event here was bracketed by five fund-raising events in Miami, Jacksonville and elsewhere.
Clinton defeated then-challenger Barack Obama in the Florida primary in 2008, giving her an important boost weeks after her devastating loss in Iowa. She is roughly 20 points ahead of challenger Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) this time and is expected to carry the swing state easily in the March 15 primary.
Obama went on to won Florida in the general election in 2008, but recent head-to-head polls show Clinton losing the state to several of the potential Republican 2016 nominees, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former Florida governor Jeb Bush.