“I have been treated very badly by the political leaders of both the city and state,” Trump tweeted. “Few have been treated worse.”
Trump’s Palm Beach fans, like Carol Brophy, a member of the Trumpettes who plans to attend Thanksgiving at Mar-a-Lago, say it’s a chance for the president to escape and “veg out” away from the scrutiny of Washington or New York.
“I think this is where he belongs, because I don’t think people in New York understand him or treat him well. Here we get him,” Brophy said. “The people don’t like the traffic every time he comes down, so I’m sure a lot of people will complain about that but most of us who love and support him feel that aggravation is nothing compared to what he has been through.”
Spending lots of time in Florida in the upcoming year also gives Trump the chance to cement his ties to a state crucial to his reelection. He won Florida by roughly 110,000 votes in 2016, carrying the state’s more rural areas while Hillary Clinton dominated the vote in cities such as Miami, Tallahassee, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville. The Tuesday night rally was in Sunrise, a part of Broward County — which Clinton overwhelmingly won in 2016.
While one Trump campaign official said the team is feeling confident about its Florida prospects in 2020, the campaign is not taking any state for granted.
“I think it does help and we’re proud that Florida has its second president after Andrew Jackson,” said Brian Ballard, Trump’s former lobbyist in Florida and a Florida Republican fundraiser. “He’s always seemed like a Floridian and now it’s official. It’s not only good for the campaign, but good for the state of Florida.”
“As a Floridian, it helps makes the case for appropriations, programs, whether it’s Lake Okeechobee, transportation, or education, having that relationship as the home state of a sitting president — especially with his relationship with Gov. DeSantis — only helps,” Ballard added.
The rally on Tuesday night was designed to focus heavily on registering new voters both inside and outside the BB&T Center.
The campaign held one of its large all-day events before the rally featuring live music, food trucks and a number of interviews with Trump surrogates. Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida attended, along with Vice President Mike Pence as Trump’s introducer.
“Holding the rally is a twofer. The president gets to go home, and the campaign can shore up the base a bit,” said a second Republican close to the White House. “The campaign is feeling good about Florida. You don’t have a lot of suburban voters in Florida, and he’s stronger and more resilient in that state.”
After the rally, the president — who has been consumed by a House impeachment investigation he calls yet another “witch hunt” — retreated to Mar-a-Lago’s gilded setting for a Thanksgiving weekend.
In prior years on Thanksgiving, the president has made phone calls to troops abroad before joining family and club guests for a Thanksgiving buffet that includes turkey and casseroles — and caviar.
Away from the demands of the West Wing, the president typically spends his time in Palm Beach playing golf with celebrities and friends at his nearby golf club, working and watching television, and socializing with an array of guests that have included Fox News hosts like Sean Hannity and club members like Marvel Entertainment Chairman Ike Perlmutter. Whether it’s Mar-a-Lago or his Bedminster club in New Jersey, the president likes to hobnob with club members and bask in his celebrity when stopping