Trump takes on Southwest Florida
Donald Trump supporters woke up as early as 3 a.m. to be one of the more than 8,000 people at Germain Arena for the Sept. 19 rally in Fort Myers.
The Trump-Pence campaign gave away more tickets to Monday’s event than Germain’s 8,284-person capacity. According to NBC-2, tickets were given to anywhere from 9,000 to 15,000 people, leaving many to watch from outside the arena on large screens provided by the campaign.
Through rain and shine, supporters stuck it out in a line that wrapped around Germain and the parking lot to hear the Republican nominee’s ideas on immigration, the recent Hillary Clinton email scandal and how he plans to build a wall, which he said the U.S. will make Mexico pay for despite his recent meeting with Enrique Pena Nieto, Mexico’s president.
Throughout the morning, supporters holding signs with “Les Deplorables = Victory” and “Hillary for Prison” created the mood and theme for the rally to follow. A gentleman donning Trump attire and an electric guitar entertained those waiting in line. Women with “Adorable Deplorable” shirts, a slogan created from the recent comments from Clinton calling Trump supporters a “basket of deplorables,” posed for pictures.
There was an unanticipated amount of children and teenagers present at the rally, despite it being held on a school day.
FGCU student Reilly Larkin, 20, wasn’t expecting anything in particular from the rally but did want to see what Trump had to offer in his speech.
“A lot of my friends were going, and I wanted to see what was going on,” Larkin said.
The doors to the event opened at noon, an hour earlier than announced. Those entering the building were asked to leave umbrellas and posters behind, littering the concrete outside with the banned items. A supporter joked, gesturing to the abandoned umbrellas, “If you leave early enough, you can have one for free.”
Opening the rally several political and local figures took the stage to speak about their support for Trump, including pastor Robert Sutton of Winkler Road Baptist Church, congressional candidate and Cape Coral resident David Byron, RNC co-chair Sharon Day, Republican candidate of the Florida House of Representatives Byron Donalds, Florida Rep. Dane Eagle, former U.S. Ambassador Francis Rooney and Republican leader and politician Newt Gingrich.
Joe Gruters, a Florida Trump campaign co-chairman, welcomed and thanked everyone in the audience for their support and their participation in the political process. He gave special recognition for veterans, first responders and former and current teachers.
“Donald Trump will fight for our freedom,” Gruters said. “He will bring back jobs from overseas and stop letting foreign governments rip us off. Donald Trump will secure our border and deport illegal aliens that are committing violent crimes. Donald Trump will stand strong against radical Islam, no more politically correct weakness.”
Estero mayor Nic Baytos took a moment to thank Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott and Estero Fire Rescue and Lee County EMS on behalf of himself and the Estero Village Council. Pastor Sutton led an arena-wide prayer, mentioning abortion and Colin Kaepernick, stating, “God, forgive us.”
Day spoke for a time about Clinton’s downfalls in comparison to Trump.
“She lied to the American people,” Day said. “She lied to the liberal media; she lied about what the FBI director said about her lies.”
The crowd responded with a round of “lock her up” from the crowd.
Eagle also spoke about Clinton, adding that, as president, she would “serve up a nice warm plate of socialism, with a side of taxes and a weakened military for dessert.”
“We are at the breaking point; we need someone to take the helm and right the ship,” Rooney said, making mention to Obama’s ‘job-killing’ regulations.
Trump made his appearance nearly an hour after his scheduled debut. He rattled off statistics, mentioning the terrorist attacks in New York and New Jersey, the San Bernardino shooting and the Boston bombing and the Pulse nightclub shooting.
His speech consisted of his opponent’s recent political scandal as well as his immigration and foreign policies. Trump also shared a poem about a woman and a snake, which he used as a metaphor for the U.S. allowing Syrian refugees into the country, and he summed up his economic plan into three words: “jobs, jobs, jobs.”
Trump made mention of the size of Clinton’s rallies, stating that they are small in size.
“I hope the press is covering the size of this arena and the crowd here and the thousands that are outside, which they’re not,” Trump said, adding to Gingrich’s comment earlier in the rally that Trump supporters may dislike the media more than Clinton.
Less than an hour after Trump took the stage, he finished his speech with his signature slogan, “we will make America great again,” while clapping along to “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by The Rolling Stones.