Trump in Jacksonville: We're on cusp of historic change

GOP hopeful rallies Jacksonville supporters; President also in town

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For the fourth time in his presidential campaign, Donald Trump spoke to enthusiastic supporters in northeast Florida during a rally Thursday at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center.

About 4,500 supporters attended the rally on Normandy Boulevard to hear the Republican hopeful's final push for the presidency.

He said he would rebuild the military, bring more ships to Mayport and better jobs to Northeast Florida.

“Our movement represents all Americans from all backgrounds and all walks of life,” said Trump, who took the stage about 12:30 p.m and spoke for about 40 minutes. “We are asking for the votes of Republicans, Democrats, independents and first-time voters, of which there are many.”

UNCUT: Donald Trump speech at Jacksonville Equestrian Center

Trump talked about building a wall, fixing the economy and, of course, took jabs at his main opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“We are fighting for every citizen that believes that government should serve the people, not the donors and not the special interests,” Trump said.

He urged the crowd to get out and vote if they haven't already.

“Don't fail,” Trump said. “We're on the cusp of something that's so amazing, a historic change -- a transfer of power from a failed political establishment. We're going to return that power to you, the people.”

Trump roused the crowd with talk of Clinton's email scandal and wiping out Obamacare if he takes office.

“I'm asking for your vote so we can replace Obamacare and save health care for every family in Florida,” Trump said.

Trump again asserted that he will "drain the swamp" in Washington, D.C., if he wins the election.

“At the core of my contract is my plan to bring back our jobs,” Trump said. “They've been stolen.”

Trump also criticized President Barack Obama for campaigning on Clinton's behalf. He was also in Jacksonville on Thursday.

“To all Americans I say it is time for new leadership. Just think about what we can accomplish in the first 100 days of a Trump administration,” Trump said to cheers. “We are going to have the biggest tax cuts since Ronald Reagan. And Hillary is raising taxes very substantially. She is raising your taxes. We are going to eliminate every unnecessary job-killing regulation. We will cancel every illegal Obama executive order.”

Local Republican elected officials and hopefuls warmed up the crowd, including state Rep. Jay Fant, state Sen. Aaron Bean, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, former sheriff and candidate for Congress John Rutherford and Florida's attorney general, Pam Bondi.

“It says a lot about our state,” Bean said of Trump's visit Thursday. “Whoever is going to win the White House has to win Florida, and to win Florida that you have to win Jacksonville.”

Don Johnson attended the rally with his 9-year-old son.

"(We're here) because of what's happening today and this election is going to be for his future," Johnson said. "It's going to be more for their future than all of ours."

Trump supporter Joe Fennell brought his 9-year-old daughter, Haley, for the same reason.

“She's very excited about the process and learning, so she's been reading all the books about the previous presidents, and she's excited to be here for this process,” Fennell said.

He said he loves that she's already into politics.

“I just like to learn the knowledge about it, and I just thought it was exciting to come,” Haley said.

A Vietnam veteran in the crowd was clear about why he was supporting Trump.

"We need people that will help us with the veteran hospitals and things like that," James Waters said. "To make sure the veterans we have coming home will get the services they need so they can continue to be healthy."

Another Trump supporter Aaron David described the rally as "amazing."

"To actually see actually see my fellow supporters and you see who else is out there that I may know that may have doubted actually supporting Trump and knowing they're with me and they're with America," David said.

Trump's campaign rented the Equestrian Center from the city of Jacksonville, which charges $2,000 per day. In addition to renting the venues, the campaign must reimburse local agencies for security costs. Those won't be known until after the events.

After the rally, Trump flew from Cecil Air Field to North Carolina for two more campaign events.

Battleground state

Florida is a key battleground state, and both candidates have focused on the Sunshine State.

Jacksonville played a key role in that on Thursday.

In addition to Trump's rally on the Westside, Obama made a campaign stop on Clinton's behalf at 3:40 p.m. at the University of North Florida arena.

RELATED: Obama rallies for Clinton in Jacksonville

Florida is known to be a key swing state.

Since 1964, Florida has voted for the winning presidential candidate in every election, with the exception of 1992, when Floridians voted for a second term for George W. Bush in the year Bill Clinton was elected president. Since that year, no candidate has won Florida by more than 6 percent.

In a poll released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University, the Florida vote was virtually deadlocked, with Clinton at 46 percent to 45 percent for Trump, with third-party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein combining for 4 percent.

About the Authors:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.

Specializes in Clay County issues, general assignment reporting and stories off the beaten path and anchors weekend evening newscasts.