Trump campaigns for Florida Republicans running for office.
TAMPA, FL (Aug 1, 2018) – President Donald J. Trump paid a visit to Tampa Bay yesterday to campaign for Republican candidates. He held a rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds which was attended by an estimated 7,000 people and a sizeable press corps. The president is no stranger to the Tampa Bay area, having held four rallies here in 2016 when running for president. He understands the importance of Florida as a swing state which helped elect him to the office. As such, he wants to keep the state red.
This was my fourth rally which I covered for News Talk Florida, and the second time Mr. Trump visited the fairgrounds. This time around, I sat outside the press pool, up in the stands with the people. Seeing my media credentials, people eyed me suspiciously but started asking me questions about Florida politics and the press in general. Sitting with the people, as opposed to behind the fenced in area for the press, gave me the opportunity to observe the Trump supporters first hand and determine their interests. From this, I sensed there was more electricity in the air, kind of like attending a World Series game or Super Bowl. I overheard one gentleman say, “Wow, this is better than a football game.”
During his introduction, the president recognized political leaders running for office, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (Dist 1) and Rep. Gus Bilirakis (Dist 12). Governor Rick Scott, who is running for the U.S. Senate, could not be there for the meeting, possibly because he wanted to appear neutral on the DeSantis-Putnam contest to replace him as governor.
The president saved the bulk of his praise for Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-D6) who he publicly endorsed for Florida governor. In reality, the rally was designed to solidify Rep. DeSantis’ candidacy. Currently, the representative enjoys a twelve point lead in a Mason-Dixon poll (7/23-25) and a nine point lead in a Florida Atlantic University Poll (7/20-21). The president’s endorsement should propel him further to clinch the Republican primary on August 28th.
Rep. DeSantis, whose roots are in Tampa Bay (Dunedin), welcomed the president and thanked him for his endorsement. He went on to support Mr. Trump’s policies on illegal immigration, which resulted in a “Build the Wall” chant by the audience. He was also opposed to Sanctuary Cities and Common Core, and is a proponent of teaching the U.S. Constitution in the classroom.
President Trump also made a plug for Governor Scott to replace Senator Bill Nelson (D), claiming, “The only time I see Nelson is five months before an election.” He also attacked the senator’s voting record, claiming he had voted for Obamacare, against the recent Tax cuts, and for Sanctuary Cities.
The president appeared to be in good spirits and was pleased to report how the economy has turned around for the better. Specifically, he mentioned…
– The Gross Domestic Product was now up to 4.1%.
– There are 3.7 million new jobs since he has taken office.
– African-American and Hispanic unemployment is at the lowest levels in history.
– The unemployment rate for Women is at the lowest level in 65 years.
– 3.5 million Americans are off of food stamps.
– Oil production is high.
– For the first time ever, America has become an exporter of Natural Gas.
– The country will soon be the largest energy producer.
– The Trade Deficit was falling.
– And it was time to straighten out the trade deals.
Although he talked about other things, it was obvious the president understands the importance of the economy as a sales tool for Republican candidates.
“But now, it is time to rebuild our country,” he said. All of this was met with enthusiastic cheers from the audience. The president was also pleased to announce U.S. Steel had opened six new steel mills, and as a surprise, mentioned Newport Steel was going to open a steel mill in Florida. This was particularly well received.
Mr. Trump went on to warn of the consequences of Democrats winning the midterm elections, claiming they want open borders and to abolish ICE, which would result in a higher crime rate and drug trafficking. He also observed, “Democrats are not allowing our values,” meaning patriotism, citizenship, and law enforcement. The president also warned of the Democrats’ attempt to give illegal immigrants the right to vote in our elections. “It is time for voter ID,” he stated which was heartily endorsed by the audience.
To me personally, the most interesting aspect of the evening was the eclectic audience in attendance, representing all walks of life; everything from young to old, blue collar to white. Even though the Democrats claim to be the party of the working people, President Trump has been able to connect to the general public, including steel workers, coal miners, people in manufacturing and construction, farmers, law enforcement, and, of course, the military and veterans. By doing so, he represents a significant threat to the Democrats who are moving towards a socialist agenda. Traditional Democrats should be worried for the future of their party.
The president also took his customary pot shots at the Fake News media. In response to their criticisms about his Avant Garde behavior, he said, “It is a lot easier to act presidential than to do what I do,” implying his results orientation.
Other notes of interest: Ivanka and Eric Trump were in attendance, as well as Eric’s wife, Lara who delivered a remarkably good talk in support of her father-in-law during the warm-up session. Towards the beginning of Mr. Trump’s speech, three or four protesters were ejected from the event, but due to the noisy condition of the event, nobody was sure what they were protesting. I also didn’t see any protesters outside. They may have been there, but they certainly were not as visible as the handful who were there in 2016.
Basically, the Trump Rally solidified the chances for Rep. Ron DeSantis to clinch the Republican candidacy for Florida governor. By bringing out his big gun, the President, Rep. DeSantis has put the other candidate, Adam Putnam, at a distinct disadvantage going into the primary elections on August 28th.
Keep the Faith!