JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Air Force One and President Donald Trump touched down Thursday in Jacksonville for a rally 40 days ahead of Election Day.
Campaign rallies like this one give a chance for local people to get involved in a national campaign. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry was the first speaker following the national anthem.
“He (Trump) is a man of action, he is a deal maker and he gets things done,” Curry told the large crowd.
The mayor spoke of Trump’s support for the country’s law enforcement. He called the president a “steadfast supporter of the blue."
The opening prayer was given by Allison DeFoor -- that’s Jacksonville City Council member Randy DeFoor’s husband. Other Republican speakers included Kat Cammack, Rep. Matt Gaetz and Rep. Michael Waltz.
Also making an appearance on stage was Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“As important as 2016 was, I’ve got to tell you, this is an important election,” DeSantis said. “Donald Trump is the first president in a long time to stand up to China and to put America first.”
Throughout the day, the crowd grew, but many of people were out bright and early.
“I actually canceled my out-of-state move so I could be here to hopefully meet our president or at least be here to support and yell, ‘Four more years!’” Liza Huckins said.
The first person in line said he got there at 3 p.m. Tuesday, coming from out of town.
“On Feb. 18, 2017, President Trump pulled me out of the crowd and I ran up on stage and hugged our president and he gave me the microphone and I spoke to the world. This, this is who our president is," said Gene Huber, referencing a shirt he was wearing showing Trump hugging him on stage during a rally. “This is the hug of the American people because our president is the man of the people.”
Several of the hundreds of people were in line by midday Thursday arrived before dawn. People told News4Jax they were enjoying the atmosphere and getting to meet new people.
“Everyone has been very excited, and we were really happy that we got here early enough to hopefully get in front of the line and at least, possibly get in,” said Mary Stanford, who was visiting from South Carolina. “Everybody has been very excited and positive and helping each other get their stuff. So it’s been very nice.”
They were looking forward to hearing from the president.
“Everything he believes in is what he’s saying. There’s a difference in a politician that will tell you anything depending on who’s listening and a politician who tells you what he believes in," Richard Polks said.
The president’s rally Thursday night is highly anticipated among Jacksonville supporters. He was supposed to visit for the Republican National Convention in August, but after Sheriff Mike Williams said he wasn’t prepared to handle it, the convention was canceled. Coronavirus cases were also flaring up during August.
“I feel like he’s just done the most for us in the last four years and we need to continue in the move that we were doing before all of this virus stuff started,” Mary Standford said. “I think he’s the man to do it. I think we can trust him.”
Supporters are also cognizant the president may use his time in Florida to meet with Barbara Lagoa, who is considered a finalist on the president’s shortlist of nominees to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Trump’s Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, sent a statement in advance of the Jacksonville rally: