TGP On Scene Report From Raucous President Trump Rally in Fort Myers, Florida (Photos)

President Trump campaigned in Fort Myers, Florida, Wednesday night for GOP candidates Ron DeSantis for governor and Rick Scott for senator–and this Gateway Pundit contributor had a front row seat! In a Bob Uecker moment in reverse…

…this writer ended up in the front rows of the VIP section at Hertz Arena instead of the media pen at the back of the arena floor. No strings were pulled, no names were dropped, heck The Gateway Pundit wasn’t even mentioned.

I had to drive almost four hours to get to Fort Myers. It was one of those days when just about everything took twice as long to accomplish. Once underway, the ride was smooth and beautiful. It was Chamber of Commerce day of warm sunny skies shining down on the fields of crops and cattle ranches along the two-lane highways crossing the Central Florida peninsula.

 

I arrived at the Hertz Arena at 5:30 p.m. Or should I say I got in line to park at the arena. After thirty minutes I made it through the line of cars and found a parking space half a world away on the far side of an outlet mall across a large pond from the arena. After a half-hour walk through the mall and along the edge of the pond, with a watchful eye for snakes and gators, I made it to the arena.

The line at 6:30 p.m., a half hour before President Trump was scheduled to speak. Event staff did a great job getting people in on time. 20,000 tickets were requested for the 8,300 seat arena (maybe more with floor standing room).  The arena was packed to the rafters (literally). There was a good sized crowd of supporters in the outside overflow area seen in the photo below (many of those in line at the time of the photo made it in) who watched the rally in a giant screen TV.

I went to the press entrance (as I have done for many Trump campaign rallies in the Sunshine State as TGP’s Florida Man) which was the same for the VIPs. The press table had shut down. I explained I was here to cover the rally. Next thing I knew (again, no names or TGP mentioned) I was brought to the head of the line with a couple VIPs with special wristbands. After clearing the Secret Service checkpoint I walked straight ahead to the first entrance to the floor. A staffer at the entrance took note of my laptop bag slung on my shoulder and told me to enter but go to the back of the floor. I said okay and in I went to what turned out to be the VIP section in front of the stage where President Trump would speak. I made my way to the back and saw there was bike rack fencing covered in patriotic bunting blocking off the entire floor with no way out.

I had a decision to take. My cellphone battery was dying and I could recharge it at the press section at the rear of the floor so I could take more pictures, or I could stay where I was–six rows from the stage–and take pictures until the battery died and then just take in the rally and make mental notes. It wasn’t a tough call.


People in the front of the general admission section had been waiting outside much of the day in the Florida sun. Some were starting to tire after standing for several hours on the arena floor. President Trump was about thirty minutes late but the crowd erupted in raucous joy when stepped on stage.

The crowd was raucous. It was noted by reporters the animosity to the press was more than during the campaign. No wonder that–Trump supporters have seen two years of the media trying to take out President Trump while ignoring or talking down any of his many accomplishments. When Trump turned from addressing the Pittsburgh Synagogue massacre at the start of his speech to criticizing the press for their coverage of his trip to Pittsburgh to pay his respects on behalf of the nation, the audience loudly booed and chanted, “CNN sucks!”

And they were right. CNN’s coverage of Trump’s visit to Pittsburgh was one long attack piece.

The passion of the crowd was almost as intense for the Republican candidates Trump brought on stage for speeches. Governor Rick Scott, a very successful two term governor running for the Senate against dinosaur incumbent Bill Nelso,  and Ron DeSantis, who left Congress to run against leftist Andrew Gillum for governor, were loudly cheered by the audience.

A light moment during the speech by Trump was when he asked who had already voted (by absentee or early vote). Trump was stunned when just about the entire arena erupted in cheers and raised hands. He said with a laugh, “Then what the hell am I doing here? Oh well, let’s have some fun!”

And fun was had by all, except for the media. CNN’s Jim Acosta had another ‘Dear Diary’ moment, “Trump ends rally in FL telling crowd “we are all one family” as he uses the most divisive rhetoric from a president in our lifetime describing the press as the enemy of the people and repeatedly demonizing immigrants. When he says “one family” he means his supporters.”

Acosta posted several videos of hecklers. He also posted a clip of a Trump supporter apologizing for flipping off Acosta at a previous rally.

I did not see Acosta that night. I have spoken to him before. He’s a decent person to approach and converse with, but get him in front of President Trump and  watch him change into Mr. Hyde (only Halloween reference in article.)

With my smartphone recharged at the press pen I took a few parting photos.

My parting thought is the rally confirmed what I have been witnessing from afar. Trump supporters are more intense, more enthused and more passionate than in 2016. I am headed to cover the Pensacola, Florida, rally taking place Saturday, November 3.

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