In what could be one of President Donald Trump‘s final visits to Florida as a candidate, he rallied supporters at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium Thursday, with First Lady Melania Trump by his side for his closing argument pitch.
“We’re in Florida, honey. This is home, this is home,” the President said to the First Lady from the stage during the event, which saw the two combine for roughly 90 minutes of speaking in peak of the day heat.
The President, who has been active on the trail since his reemergence from COVID-19, has long since refined his standard stemwinder pitch, and the novelty was in the asides and the references to local leaders on hand.
The “fake news” is “very unhappy,” Trump said, about how “incredibly” he’s doing in Florida.
“This isn’t based on polls, it’s based on facts. Votes that are coming in,” Trump said.
Polling shows a tight race, with Trump behind by just 1 point in the Real Clear Politics polling average, but the President has continued to contend that he is outperforming so called “suppression” surveys.
Trump focused on his support with Hispanics, improved from 2016, though polls range as to how much.
“What is happening to those poll numbers? We have the highest numbers,” Trump boasted.
“94% of stories about us are negative. 64% of stories about Sleepy Joe are positive,” Trump said, before noting the media “doesn’t call [Biden] out on where is Hunter Biden.”
A “Where is Hunter?” chant broke out, before Trump dismissed advice from well-meaning Republicans to avoid the subject of alleged Biden family corruption as an example, perhaps, of “why I’m here and they’re not.”
Trump also suggested that “Anonymous” Miles Taylor, a former staffer who wrote an op-ed criticizing the administration, should be subject to “some major criminal liability for scum like this.” He noted that he wondered if higher-level people, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, was actually the rogue staffer turned writer.
The President had plaudits for the local support, including the man who spoke before him.
Gov. Ron DeSantis “looked like he was up there for a long time,” Trump quipped, before saying the Governor “was a great guy.”
Soon enough, he said that he initially wasn’t sure about whether DeSantis should run for Governor in 2018, suggesting he may need DeSantis more in Congress.
“Your Governor was another one, he stood up … he’d be on television fighting for me, defending me,” Trump said later.
Trump told DeSantis when the Congressman asked for his endorsement that he’d “rather have him where you are,” but of course, DeSantis ran, Trump relented, and the rest was history.
Trump also extolled “really good guys,” Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, neither of whom was on hand.
Ahead of the President’s speech, Melania Trump offered introductory remarks.
The First Lady, saying it was “wonderful” to be in the Trumps’ home state, blasted “large tech companies” and “political censorship” before reciting the President’s accomplishments, including Middle Eastern peace deals and avoiding new wars, and moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Mrs. Trump has been deployed on the campaign trail with some frequency since her recovery from COVID-19 and delivered what was clearly a scripted speech with the President looking on, a red Make America Great Hat shielding his eyes from the merciless sun.