ORLANDO, Fla. - It was a sea of red under the sweltering sun Tuesday as thousands of Trump supporters, decked out in MAGA-inspired attire, waited outside the Amway Center hours before the president’s arrival.
Some had been camped in chairs for several nights, others traveled from afar, but almost all were there to show their unwavering support for Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign. The rally was slated to start at 8 p.m. ET.
“He kept his promises, he is passionate about America. He wants to keep us safe, I am tired of people hating on him. He is doing his best to defend us,” Alan Machapento, a New Jersey native, told Fox News. “I am watching the Dow, we have the lowest unemployment ever.”
Meanwhile, Marcia Tracy and her teen grandson, Ashton Smith of South Jacksonville, woke up at the crack of dawn in anticipation of the momentous occasion when Trump was to announce he is seeking a second term.
“From the moment he said he was running, I was a Trump fan,” Tracy enthused, stressing she was in no way disappointed with his performance. “He is not a politician, and I am so glad my grandson is going to grow up in an America that is great.”
In her view, Trump is a man of his word and has brought jobs back, so “we all can proudly say things are made in America” again.
Her biggest hope ahead of the 2020 showdown?
“Build the wall,” Tracy exclaimed.
Her grandson, Ashton, at just 15, acknowledged that while he is too young to vote, being involved in such rallies had given him impetus to “form his own opinions” and think about what issues are of importance, namely future job opportunities.
The intensity of the event only grew as more poured in throughout the morning.
Every kind of cap and shirt and mug and poncho was being hawked in corners far and wide, with slogans ranging from “God, Guns and Trump” to “Trump’s Deplorables” to “Working to Defeat Liberals since 1854.”
“Bikers For Trump” volunteer security members managed traffic in and out of the rally areas as jubilant Trump devotees partied to a band while in line, occasionally breaking into “USA, USA" chants.
Others wandered the blocks around the venue urging people to sign a petition to “prevent voter fraud.”
“Only U.S. citizens should be able to vote,” explained Donny, a Jacksonville native. “That’s what we want in Florida.”
Meanwhile, Pamela Simpson of Fort Pierce, Fla., said she was more than pleased with the Trump team’s efforts in the area of criminal justice reform.
“There are a lot of mothers and women sitting in jail and they are (working on reforms),” she said. “We need to believe in America and we are on the right track. It is Congress that is not.”
Joining her under the warm sun was 80-year-old Barbara Miller from Orlando, who said she had been working since the age of 13 and was a big believer in promoting business.
In order to secure his next term, the president would almost certainly need to snag Florida, which has long been considered one of the most strategic voter battlegrounds in America.
While many of Trump’s policies and mannerisms have been maligned in the media in recent years, many at the rally said they came out to ensure that it was not indicative of how the whole country thinks and feels.
“I am here for Trump, I love his attitude,” said Cherie Colgram, from Clermont, Fla. “He is making things happen, he is still working on the border issue. I’m voting for him again.”
Official requests over the loudspeakers reminded the crowd that while President Trump supports both the First and Second amendments, the event was paid for by Trump and designated areas “outside the venue were put in place for those wishing to protest.”
With that, a chant of “God Bless America” rose from the groups.