While there might be some areas in which supporting Donald Trump is a liability for Republican politicians, Northeast Florida is not one of them.
With that in mind, a variety of area candidates and elected officials turned out for the Trump rally in Jacksonville on Thursday.
Among them: State Sen. Aaron Bean and State Rep. Jay Fant, Congressman-in-waiting John Rutherford, and former Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll.
Making the trip from Tallahassee: Attorney General Pam Bondi
Warming up the crowd for the GOP standard bearer, they projected the kind of positivity one might expect in the “safe space” of a Trump rally on the deep red Westside of Jacksonville.
Bean, in his usual style, said “welcome to Trump/Pence country,” before talking about what is “really deplorable,” describing Hillary Clinton‘s botched Benghazi response.
Bean then channeled Jeff Foxworthy, saying “you might be a conservative if you wished you voted for Ronald Reagan … if you believe in traditional family values no matter what Hollywood said … if you think of somebody’s name when you hear the word crooked … and if you think it’s time to drain the swamp.”
A chant broke out. And Bean said “we’re draining it baby. We’re draining the swamp.”
Bean then named the enemy. The media. Mark Zuckerberg, George Soros, and Wall Street.
“You can have Wall Street,” Bean said. “I’ll take Main Street.”
Fant spoke next, asking rhetorical questions along the line of “do you want the federal government to expand into every area of your life?”
After a few of those questions, a spirited “lock her up” chant filled the Jacksonville Equestrian Center.
“The last eight years have been rough. I don’t know about you, but I watch the television and see what’s happened to our civil rights, and that really bothers me,” Fant said.
“Yes, we have Bibles and we take them to church every Sunday. And we sure know how to defend ourselves,” Fant said, adding that “the time for action is now.”
John Rutherford spoke up next.
“Is this Trump Country or what? That’s why I’m proud to be standing here and supporting our Republican nominee, Donald J. Trump,” Rutherford said.
A “spiraling decline,” “hopelessness in our inner cities,” “corruption in the highest offices in our land,” an influx of refugees, and the “national disaster that is Obamacare” are all characteristic of the problems created by the current administration, said Rutherford, which has set up a command system requiring Americans to “pay and obey.”
The chant rose up again from the assembled.
“Lock her up, OK,” Rutherford said. “Mrs. Clinton has a history of corruption going back 30 years to Whitewater … as a sheriff, I’ve locked up a whole lot of people for doing less than she has done.”
Jennifer Carroll had a hard act to follow. She maligned the Clinton machine for having “lied to Bernie Sanders and his supporters … and she’s doing that to black folks as well.”
She urged those who once felt the Bern to “come over on the Trump train,” before disparaging Clinton for everything from supporting Anthony Weiner to the various global nefariousness of the Clinton Foundation.
“This is how she supports women,” Carroll said.
Attorney General Bondi likewise was enthusiastic, saying “we’re going to turn a purple Florida red,” and “in five days, we’re going to see an America led by Donald J. Trump.”
Bondi advised that Trump would put “jurists on the Supreme Court who would follow the rule of law.”
Jobs lost overseas? Horrible trade policies?
“Eight years is enough,” said Bondi. “ISIS and tyrants abroad, they have our world on edge. Who’s not going to be scared of them? Donald Trump.”
Regarding “pill mills, cocaine, and heroin,” said Bondi, Trump will “protect our borders.”
“With him on the job,” Bondi added, “the job’s going to be done.”
“Hillary Clinton is the system. And Donald Trump is going to fix it,” Bondi continued.