President Trump visits Tampa for rally in support of candidate DeSantis

Published: Updated:
President Donald Trump speaks with reporters before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Tuesday, July 10, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

They came from far and wide, with one goal in mind.

“I wanted to see our president, said Fort Myers resident,” said Fort Myers resident Jim Smith.

Celebration resident Karen Kouyoumjian said she’s been looking forward to the event.

“I would not miss anything that any of the Trump family is involved in,” Kouyoumjian said.

Hundreds lined up outside the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Center for President Trump’s much-anticipated visit.

Self-described “Trump super fan” Gene Huber has been waiting since Tuesday night.

“He cares about two things when he wakes up every morning: us and the United States of America,” Huber said.

In all the Trump fanfare, you might forget the rally is actually a campaign event for gubernatorial hopeful Ron DeSantis. After DeSantis received the presidential Twitter endorsement, he jumped more than 30 points in the polls.

“If Trump believes that DeSantis is the best, I’m going with that guy,” said Miami resident Maurice Symonette.

Kouyoumjian agreed.

“Ron DeSantis! Absolutely 100 percent,” Kouyoumjian said. “Anyone that Donald Trump, our president, is endorsing.”

The question now: Will the president’s presence alone be enough to life DeSantis to a primary victory over Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnnam?

President Trump gives remarks prior to rally

President Trump will first hold a round table discussion on education prior to a rally in support of gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis.

“I believe in President Trump,” said volunteer and supporter Marilyn Westropp.

President Trump is met mostly with supporters at Tampa Bay Technical High School.

“I voted for him so I’m here to support him,” said supporter Ron Brown.

The president wants to give a boost to technical education and vocational opportunities to students.

He said in a statement the economy has become “increasingly dependent on science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and other skilled labor.”

“I was in the automotive field,” Brown said. “We needed a lot of mechanics and that’s important to have good people who know what they’re doing from the beginning.”

Westropp stressed the need for quality employees in the U.S.

“We do have difficult times trying to find good workers in America,” Westropp said.

The president will sign a bill at 6 p.m. that provides crucial funding towards training programs, and allows schools the flexibility needed for funding needed for this kind of education.

“I think it’s very important because it focuses directly on a type of field that somebody may be interested in or may have very good skills with,” said supporter and volunteer Debbie Guest. “I myself, I’m a court reporter, I went to a technical school.”

But a few protesters— like Diane Rodriguez, who was dressed as a sad statue of liberty— outside don’t believe in what he’s doing.

“The fact that he’s gonna prance through here in (five), 10 minutes for a photo opp. I don’t believe anything, Betsy DeVos at the helm of education, I can tell you nothing is going to happen positive for education under this administration,” Rodriguez said.

Trust WINK News to bring you live coverage from President Trump’s visit to Tampa: Two events are planned, for 5:55 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Click or tap here to register for the rally.

Copyright ©2023 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.