Hundreds of people gathered Friday morning at the Bayside Conference Center at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort for the “Triggered” book-signing event with Donald Trump Jr., and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz.
“Triggered: How the Left Wants to Silence Us” is the first book by Trump Jr. Since it was released earlier this month, the author has been making public appearances across the country. At Friday’s Sandestin appearance, there were about 700 attendees, according to South Walton Fire District. Most of them were wearing T-shirts and hats with the Trump name in bold letters.
Trump Jr., along with his girlfriend, former prosecutor and Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Gaetz talked about the book and the current news in Washington, before the meet and greet.
“I think you’re going to have a more friendly audience than ‘The View’ today,” said Gaetz referring to his heated interview on Thursday’s show.
Trump said he wrote his book to share his back story, and how he became a conservative — “you know, the son of a rich guy from New York City, that doesn’t happen a lot these days” — and also to talk about his experience testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee about the dropped plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
“That’s a big part of why I wrote the book,” Trump said. “The viciousness of what happened when I took a 20-minute, unsolicited meeting. But when Hillary (Clinton) spends millions of her money and DNC money to go send agents — foreign agents — to go into other counties to collect dirt on this dossier, give it to the FBI who leaks it to the press, who writes a story, then the FBI uses the story to justify going and trying to subvert the duly-elected president … that’s some scary stuff, guys. That’s Tom Clancy stuff.”
Following this statement, the crowd started chanting “Lock her up.”
With the current impeachment inquiry of President Trump, Gaetz said he’s the “canary in the coal mine now.” He’s been vocal about the inquiry on social media and cable news and even tried to crash the impeachment inquiry hearing last month.
“Instead of working with us just a little bit … they want to have the knockoff Ukrainian sequel to the Russian rumors,” said Gaetz. “There’s $120 million in military (spending) for this district held up because people are debating impeachment.”
In his book, Trump Jr. chronicles the 2016 campaign and how his father started to change the Republican dialogue.
“Finally, here’s someone with … guts,” he said. “You know where I’m going.”
While Jeb Bush was an early favorite, among the GOP four years ago, Trump Jr. said he believes voters wanted a candidate to fight back. He gave praise to Gaetz for his support and being one of the “best fighters for (Make America Great Again)."
“The president loves Matt,” he said.
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) November 8, 2019
Donald Trump Jr. didn’t offer much about the former Attorney General Jeff Sessions entering the Alabama Senate race this week. He was fired by the president one year ago. The crowd booed when Sessions’ name was mentioned. Trump Jr. just said he would let Alabama voters decide for themselves.
“Old-school Republican mentalities of ‘We have our principles but we’re going to turn the other cheek.’ It’s the Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan school of Republican,” added Trump. “But hey, what has turning the other cheek gotten conservatives for 50 years? Nothing!”
“We need fighters.”
Most attendees believe Gaetz and the Trump administration are fighters, too.
“I’m so proud of my congressman …. I’m really hoping for a Trump (Jr.) and Gaetz ticket (in 2024),” said Harriet Nix of Destin, wearing a Trump 2020 hat.
Patti and Bob Sears of Gulf Breeze proudly waved “Make America Gaetz Again” signs and cheered for Trump Jr. Sears was fighting stage 4 breast cancer in 2016, and says she’s looking forward to volunteering any way she can and voting in person for Trump in 2020.
Among issues that are important to them is supporting the military (Bob is retired Air Force) infrastructure and the border wall. Brian Kolfage of the We Build the Wall organization had a table at the event collecting donations and sharing information.
“I’m not anti-immigrant,” said Patti, whose son adopted two children from Guatemala. “I just think you should come in the way you’re supposed to come in. Follow the laws.”
As for the impeachment inquiry, Patti said she doesn’t think the President did anything wrong. Paul Carpenter, a supporter wearing a MAGA red hat, put it more succinctly.
“It’s BS,” he said.
If there was one criticism from any of the attendees, it was the book signing itself. Instead of signing each book, people in line were a little disappointed to find they just got a signature stamp in the book.
“I’m not happy,” said Donna Haider, who bought books for her two sons. “But Donald Jr. was a great speaker. He really draws you in. I’m voting for Trump in 2020. I want him to get started on the wall and get Democrats under control.”