OPA-LOCKA, Fla. – President Trump made another visit to South Florida late Sunday.
Supporters of the president began lining up early in the morning for the event at Opa-locka Executive Airport for the event that didn’t begin until around 11:30 p.m.
There was concern the event would conflict with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez' midnight countywide curfew. Sunday afternoon, the mayor’s office released an update on the rally, saying, in part:
“Miami-Dade County has confirmed with the RNC ... that the outdoor event will begin at 9:30 p.m. Sunday, and is expected to end before midnight.”
The rally, however, didn’t wrap up until nearly 1 a.m.
During the event, the president urged his supporters to get out and vote in Miami-Dade, a county he lost in 2016, despite winning Florida.
He also spoke about the coronavirus pandemic, and his messaging has been the same over the last few days, with the president saying we are “rounding the corner.”
But Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is on Trump’s own health task force, has disputed that, saying “We’re in for a whole lot of hurt.”
Trump expressed frustration that the surging cases of the virus that has killed more than 231,000 people in the United States this year remains prominent in the news, sparking chants of “Fire Fauci” from his supporters.
“Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election,” Trump replied to thousands of supporters early Monday, adding he appreciated their “advice.”
Trump’s comments on Fauci less than 48 hours before polls close all but assure that his handling of the pandemic will remain front and center heading into Election Day.
It’s the most direct Trump has been in suggesting he was serious about trying to remove Fauci from his position. He has previously expressed that he was concerned about the political blowback of removing the popular and respected doctor before Election Day.
Trump’s aggressive approach to Fauci carries some risks this close to Election Day,
A Kaiser Family Foundation poll in September showed 68% of Americans have a great deal or a fair amount of trust in Fauci to provide reliable information on the coronavirus. That compares with 52% of Americans who trusted Biden to do that and just 40% for Trump.
As for Sunday’s rally, Democrats slammed the president for holding what they called a potential super-spreader event.
Mayor and congressional candidate Carlos Gimenez, a Trump ally, said fliers were handed out about COVID-19 safety.
One of the first people in line for Sunday’s rally was Stuart Sawyer.
He drove four hours from his home in Sumpter County to be at the front of the line to see President Trump, arriving in South Florida before 6 a.m.
“This is my seventh event this month: two in North Carolina, four in Florida. I am just super excited to see the president again,” said Sawyer. “I think the polls are designed to suppress how people feel, so don’t believe the polls. I think we’re going to look at another 2016 and Donald Trump is going to be president and he’s going to win Florida.”
Reliably Republican Cuban-American supporters showed up earlier on Sunday at Cafe Versailles in Little Havana, and a large crowd showed up for a caravan at Tropical Park.
Many people registered for Sunday’s event though the Trump 2020 app on their phones.
Event organizers warned that anybody who went to the event was assuming the risk of being possibly exposed to COVID-19 and must agree not to hold the president liable for getting sick. Organizers set up metal barricades and white tents to form a walking path, and portable toilets were brought in as well.
Trump’s campaign called Sunday’s event a Make America Great Again victory rally.
The rally was Trump’s eighth campaign stop in a whirlwind, two-day blitz of battleground states.
He left South Florida Monday morning to head to North Carolina for another dizzying day of last minute campaigning.