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President Trump Makes Campaign Stop In Pensacola

Just 11 days before Election Day, President Donald Trump made a campaign stop in Pensacola Friday night.

Thousands — many of them in the trademark red hats — gathered at ST Engineering hours before Air Force One landed. President Trump was introduced by a roundup of local and state politicians, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, and State Rep. Alex Andrade.

Fresh from his final debate with former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump arrived at the podium saying “Eleven days from now, we’re going to win my home state of Florida.”

President Trump shared a lot of the same talking points from his campaign trail: opening up the country, defending borders, energy independence, and taxes to name a few.

“Next year is going to be more successful,” he said. “I gave the largest tax cut and tax reform in history and we cut taxes again for the middle class. This election is between a Trump super recovery and a Biden super depression.”

Trump said in contrast, taxes would rise under Biden. The Democratic candidate said his plan would only affect families that earn $400,000 or more. The economy and low taxes is an important issue to Pensacola resident John Pence (no relation to Vice President Mike Pence).

“I want him to keep the tax cuts he’s had and even improve on that,” said Pence. 

Almost three years ago, after the Republicans in Congress passed a tax cut, the nonpartisanTax Policy Center reported that more than 60% of the tax savings went to people in the top 20% of the income ladder.

When it comes to Biden’s plan, Pence just shook his head no. He said he didn’t believe he would benefit from Biden’s plan.

“I don’t believe anything that man says; that’s just my opinion.” 

Credit Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Media
A Trump staffer tosses red MAGA hats out into the crowd.

On the pandemic, Trump said the country is “rounding the turn with or without the vaccine.” But also said there would be 100 million vaccine doses available before the end of the year.

He said the election would be between a boom with another four years of the Trump administration versus a lockdown under Joe Biden.

“We’re not locking down anything,” he said. “We understand the disease, I understand it better than you — I had it.”

The notion that the virus has not been taken seriously enough has been a talking point for former Vice President Biden. At Friday’s rally, there were signs from the Trump campaign encouraging masks, but they were not enforced. Social distancing was also not enforced. More than 82,000 new cases of the virus were reported across the country Friday, setting a single-day record.

While there were supporters out in masks — and some Trump 2020 masks were for sale outside the rally — the virus didn’t seem to be a big concern among the crowd. Before the rally started, Pensacola resident Will Townsend said he wants Trump to “get the vaccine rolling” by next year to put the pandemic in the past.

“The whole thing’s a hoax,” he said. “I mean, it’s real, but it’s not what the media claims it to be. It’s way overhyped.”

Trump said this election was even more important than 2016, and that’s because of the courts. The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on Monday confirming Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“Supreme Court, Supreme Court,” he said. “And Amy. Coney. Barrett.”

Trump encouraged the crowd to get out and vote and tell their friends, family — even their bosses — to vote.
“With your help, we are going to keep on working, we are going to keep on fighting and we are going to keep on winning, winning, winning,” he said.

That same message was shared by Gov. Ron DeSantis. “I feel good about the state of Florida; I think we’ve got good momentum,” said DeSantis. “Four years ago, there were 340,000 more registered Democrats than registered Republicans in the state. Now, we have come down to less than 140,000 difference. We have the ability to get this down. Do you pledge to support all of our Republican candidates up and down the ballot?”

Florida is one the states where the presidential race is typically a narrow margin of victory, and that’s no different in 2020. But DeSantis said Northwest Florida is “gonna deliver.”

It’s unlikely there were any undecided voters at the rally. And supporters were enthusiastic. Marty Hearn and Dalia Taylor both say they believe they’re better off after four years of Trump.

“I’m ten times better off,” said Hearn who works in real estate. “When the bubble burst in real estate everything went down the tubes under Obama. But now I’m better off than I was even six years ago.”

“This man’s done more in four years than any Democrat,” said Taylor. “He’s brought his economy to the best it’s ever been. He’s brought us back from the brink of destruction from the pandemic.”

Jennie joined WUWF in 2018 as digital content producer and reporter.