Joe Henderson: Turnout for Donald Trump’s Sarasota rally sends a clear message
Image via AP.

The turnout for Trump's "Save America" rally in soggy Sarasota should remind everyone the former President will leave the stage when he is good and ready. And he's not ready.

The “Save America” rally for former (repeat, former) President Donald Trump Saturday in Sarasota sent an unmistakable warning to Florida Democrats and, maybe, Gov. Ron DeSantis, too.

Trump’s true believers still believe, and there’s no room in their hearts and minds for anyone else. That’s true, even if it means siding with Trump against a Governor they really like. Why else would thousands sit through buckets of rain to hear their heartthrob make the same points he makes every time he opens his yap.

Democrats, bad! Election stolen! Witch hunt!


But his people listened in adoration, even though they’ve heard it again and again. It’s like a movie they’ve watched 20 times and know every line by heart, but they can’t wait to see it for the 21st time. They will savor that showing as much as the first one.

“This is the kind of persecution they’re doing, as an example in New York, that you would see in Third World nations,” he told the crowd. “It’s reminiscent of a communist dictatorship targeting its political opponents … There’s no depth to which the radical left will not sink to stop our Make America Great Again movement.”

Um, communist dictators aren’t the only ones to target political opponents. Or did everyone forget how Trump wanted his Attorney General to investigate and even arrest Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, Jim Comey, and Hillary Clinton, among others?

He pressured then-Vice President Mike Pence to invalidate Biden’s election, even though there was no legal ground to do so. He bullied Georgia leaders to “find” him enough votes to win the state in the 2020 election. We could go on and on.

True believers know all that, and they don’t care. Don’t try to explain it and, whatever you do, don’t bring up Trump’s legal issues, the lies he tells, and the Jan. 6 insurrection. You’re wasting your breath.

They. Do. Not. Care.

They never will, either, because they believe the other side is more crooked and the Deep State is covering it up.

Meanwhile, DeSantis didn’t attend the rally because he was on the job at the collapsed condo in Surfside. Trump said he understood but, interestingly, didn’t mention DeSantis at the rally.

DeSantis has been a Trump loyalist from the get-go, but his popularity is rising, and that could put him in the crosshairs. In Trump’s world, there is no room for anything but total loyalty.

And, oh my gosh, did you see that DeSantis sat next to President Biden last week at the Surfside catastrophe. Gasp! He even praised the President, calling the federal response “great.”

“You guys have not only been supportive at the federal level, but we’ve had no bureaucracy,” DeSantis said.

He even praised the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That’s not a misprint.

“I was able to speak yesterday with FEMA Director Deanne Criswell, and they were great. They have supported some emergency assistance. Obviously, the search and rescue is primary. Any lives, they’re trying to save lives. That’s clearly the most important thing,” DeSantis said.

That’s the same agency that DeSantis belittled during the early COVID-19 vaccine rollout. He said then that “FEMA camps” would add unnecessary bureaucracy to vaccine distribution.

He later changed his mind and decided they were OK after all.

I wonder how all that played to the true believers? There is no room for bipartisanship in Trump’s world, even during a disaster. That’s true of Democrats and even dissenters in his own Republican Party.

Oh, come on, we know how it played to the true believers.

They loved every minute. If it took standing out in the rain to prove that, it’s a small price to hear everything from the former President they’ve heard dozens of times before.

If and when he comes back this way, they will line up to hear it all again.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • Holly

    July 5, 2021 at 7:09 pm

    This is one man’s opinion who would NEVER vote for a Republican. None of us think less of DeSantis for anything he has done lately. Personally, I hope that Trump doesn’t run, but throws his full support to DeSantis. Ron has the personality and policies that would win in 2024.
    I’m a lifelong Conservative.

    • Tario Jim

      July 8, 2021 at 3:01 pm

      Total agreement with you as a long time political observer.

  • Joe Gotts

    July 5, 2021 at 7:39 pm

    DeSantis is a SCUMBAG.

    • jeff reeves

      July 7, 2021 at 11:45 am

      Says Jabba the Hutt.. Go away

  • Charles

    July 5, 2021 at 7:42 pm

    You are a disgusting political hack. If you ever were a real journalist those days have past. Now we are left with a bitter, decrepit unaccomplished, washed up old liberal POS. I have not doubt you will continue spewing JACKASSERY to the few who still listen to a bigot.

  • Ron Ogden

    July 5, 2021 at 8:58 pm

    One little event on one night in one town and he has more listeners than all the people who read a word you ever wrote. No wonder you hate him. Jealousy is SUCH an ugly trait.

  • Tom Palmer

    July 6, 2021 at 1:27 am

    Why he even bothered to mention this event is hard to understand. He offered no original insights. Trump rallies are pretty predictable events.

  • Trinadin

    July 6, 2021 at 5:24 am

    There wasn’t a single piece of actual information in this post. Just a long rant. I’m dumber for having read this.

    • Jesus

      July 6, 2021 at 10:44 am

      NOT possible

    • Dorine

      July 6, 2021 at 11:13 am

      Yeah, I also feel pretty darned stupid for allowing myself to be sucked-in by this biased partisan activist…

  • Steve

    July 6, 2021 at 8:15 am

    People who go to these rallies are stupid cult followers – full stop.

    • Trouty130

      July 6, 2021 at 4:27 pm

      You just say that because senile, creepy Joe can’t even fill 12 circles at his rally.

  • Ocean Joe

    July 6, 2021 at 8:50 am

    If you could sell tickets to a train wreck, you would fill a stadium too.

  • Drew Miniard

    July 6, 2021 at 9:10 am

    Wow, yeah this article is complete garbage. Dude just sounds like he’s still suffering from TDS. Way to go on a rant and provide no actual reading value. How do you even get published? Open your eyes and realize your state is red. Greasy old liberal turd.

  • Pedro

    July 6, 2021 at 9:10 am

    And these idiots think liberals are the sheep!

    • Trump Won

      July 6, 2021 at 4:26 pm

      I heard 10 people stood on the street to wave at Joe Biden. Sure he got 81 million votes.

      And, we just think liberals are idiots.

      • John Galt

        July 9, 2021 at 3:03 am

        Yup. You would believe anything he told you to believe. You ask for no evidence, took his word instead of opening your own eyes. Now you are willing to go along with 20 dumbass conspiracy theories because you are unable to admit that the compulsive liar has lied. Again. His lies have body counts – over 800 by bleach. He lost fairly to a man he made fun of. If you can admit that – things make sense again.

        Good luck.

        The Republican Party

  • greg

    July 6, 2021 at 4:44 pm

    It seems that the number of people attending the Trump rally sticks in your craw. Now add to it the fact that about 2 MILLION have watched his rally online. That will really get your panties in a bunch.

  • fd2003

    July 6, 2021 at 4:51 pm

    This from the group that did an still does go down on obo..o.

    THAT is slavish devotion. And not even for his few qualities but b/c he was 1/2 black!

  • JT

    July 7, 2021 at 3:24 am

    Thank you for writing what we all feel. If Trump could add specifics to anything he says he might get some mainstream respect. But its all speaking techiques often used by dictators to lure followers. I hope his past followers will recognize his self serving motives (he only cares about himself and aging ego) and they can move on and get someone of intelligence and honesty on the GOP ticket.

  • Tom

    July 7, 2021 at 4:07 pm

    These reader comments are fascinating. Apparently Mr. Henderson raises the blood pressure of the TrumpkSuckers who read every one of his columns just so they can get pissed off and respond. Keep up the good work, Mr. Henderson!

  • No Name

    July 8, 2021 at 10:17 am

    The only people stupider than Trump are the trumpsters. Truly epic idiocy. It’s sad for them personally, and catastrophic for the country.

  • Gina

    July 9, 2021 at 4:48 pm

    It’s hard to believe that so many people are living in an alternate reality. Trump is a horrible person. I don’t understand how anyone could support him. What do they like about him? The racism? The cheating? The lying? The bullying? The name calling? The way he managed to remain shockingly ignorant in spite of having access to the finest schools ? I wish there was a way to make his cult see him for what he really is. But if the insurrection didn’t do it…I’m not sure what will.

Comments are closed.


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