A crowd of some 8,000 cheered inside Estero’s Hertz Arena as President Donald Trump took to the stage in a last-minute push for midterm votes.
Drawing applause with a promise to end birthright citizenship and touting new funding for a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee, he said, “America is thriving and winning because we finally are putting America first.”
But most of all, Trump came to boost the chances of two statewide Republicans who joined him on stage.
The president celebrated Gov. Rick Scott, whom he’d like to see in the U.S. Senate this fall, and he cheered on former Rep. Ron DeSantis, the GOP nominee for Governor.
Trump called Scott “one of the best governors in Florida history.”
“He will keep the Florida boom in full swing,” Trump said.
Scott, riding solid approval ratings for his response to Hurricane Michael as he challenged Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson, said Trump deserved credit for federal response to both Michael and Hurricane Irma last year.
“Every day he calls me, and every time, he asks, what do you need?” Scott said.
Then, as DeSantis came on stage, he turned to bombastic lines to rev up the capacity crowd.
Of Democratic opponent Andrew Gillum, DeSantis contrasted his own positive relationship with Trump to a potentially fractious one with Gillum.
“He’s running on impeaching the president,” DeSantis said of Gillum. “This is a guy who took bribes from an undercover agent. Maybe we should impeach him as mayor of Tallahassee.”
That set the crowd into chants of “Lock Him Up,” a cheer reminiscent of the “Lock Her Up” cheers when Democrat Hillary Clinton dealt with an FBI investigation while running against Trump in 2016.
Trump joined in critiquing both Gillum and Nelson, calling Gillum “too extreme for the state of Florida.”
“Tallahassee is one of most corrupt cities anywhere in the United States,” he said. “Is this really what we want?”
Of Nelson, Trump said in all of his years dealing with properties in Florida, he only ever saw Nelson six months before an election: “Then you don’t see anybody but him.”
In the late part of his speech, he drilled in the need to eliminate birthright citizenship.
Trump dismissed arguments the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment would prohibit him from changing that by executive order: “Illegal aliens are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States,” he said.