President Donald Trump was in downtown Fort Myers Friday for an invite-only private event on seniors.
During his speech at the Caloosa Sound Convention Center (formerly the Harborside Events Center), Trump discussed health care costs, Social Security and other topics that impact senior citizens, while taking the opportunity to take many jabs at his rival candidate Joe Biden.
The “Protecting America’s Seniors” event began around 1:46 p.m. after the president arrived to God Bless the USA and was greeted by the audience chanting, “four more years.”
TRUMP IN SWFL: President Trump arrives at Private Sky Aviation and is greeted by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson. // LIVE COVERAGE: https://t.co/vty6UmSOqx pic.twitter.com/bVrh1VKk4r
— WINK News (@winknews) October 16, 2020
Trump landed at RSW airport at 1:04 p.m on Air Force One.
While exciting to us, the president’s movements are always planned and well executed.
He was greeted by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson as he got off Air Force One. After a brief conversation with both, Trump walked straight to The Beast, taking no questions from reporters.
The honor of riding with him to the convention center went to the governor.
Like his arrival and departure, the motorcade is business as usual for the president. But the ambulance that followed is particularly important, considering Trump’s recent health scare.
President Trump announced more than 35 million Medicare beneficiaries will soon receive a card in the mail with $200 they can use to help pay for prescription drugs, and he said seniors will be the first in line for a COVID-19 vaccine.
The president remembered the hundreds of thousands of people we’ve lost to COVID-19 here in the United States. He then went on to say our seniors are the ones who are most affected by the virus.
“I’m honored to be here in Fort Myers to reaffirm my solemn pledge to the American seniors,” Trump said. “So important to me. I happen to be a senior … I will defend you and will fight for you with every ounce of energy and conviction that I have.”
Trump also spoke about making sure the elderly are getting medications at a low cost they can afford. Trump ended his speech by urging everyone to get out and vote this year.
Crowds of people showed up to downtown Fort Myers to witness the presidential visit.
There were plenty of signs, especially when they saw the motorcade. People were overwhelmed with emotions as the president drove through Southwest Florida.
Trump supporters filled the streets to show their support as he made his way to the Caloosa Sound Convention Center.
“It was such an honor to have him come here to Fort Myers, and it seems like he has a great following,” Brenda Minosky said. “There were thousands of people happy, happy Trump supporters.”
Brenda Minosky along with her son, Luke, were one of the lucky ones who were let in to the event.
“It was awesome,” Minosky said. “We just walked up and asked if there would be anyway as a first-time voter, my son here, Luke, he would be able to get us in and they took us right in.”
“It was really fun,” Luke said. “It was my first Trump event that I was ever at, and it was a great experience.”
Others were no strangers to hearing Trump’s speeches.
“I found out just yesterday,” Arvy Krise said. “This is the fourth time I seen President Trump in person.”
President Trump departed RSW shortly before 3:30 p.m. and was on his way to central Florida.
The secret service allowed only credentialed guests and reporters to watch the president leave on board Air Force One.
We spoke to plenty of people who attended this event, and they told us they truly believe he will stick with his promise and take care of seniors.
“He will do the right thing,” said Luccia Grilli, who was visiting from Kentucky. “He will make this country the best it’s ever been if you give him another chance, another four years in the White House.”
Watch below or click here.
The Fort Myers Police Department prepared ahead of time for the president’s visit, and roadblocks were put up approximately two to three blocks around the Luminary Hotel and Caloosa Sound Convention Center.
MORE: Trump visit to impact traffic in Lee County, including school busses
MORE: Photos from the event
“Just to see the president”
Supporters started gathering Friday morning, waiting to get a glimpse of the president.
Hundreds of people packed the sidewalks in downtown Fort Myers all day for hours, in the sun, sweating. But in the end, all the thirst and endless need for shade was worth it.
It was the fastest four seconds of the day — the big, black, bulletproof limousine carrying the president, zipping by.
Standing right in front of our news crew through it all was Camille DelSavio.
“This has been overwhelming and wonderful,” she said.
This proud senior citizen braved the heat for hours and hours to simply wave as President Donald Trump drove by.
“You know what we would hope for? That he would come out of that building, tell his secret service he just wanted to walk to that corner and wave at us, however, it was wonderful,” DelSavio said.
After Friday, she just wants it all to be over with her pick as president for another four years.
“I just hope everything is settled quickly and don’t have to have the suspense much longer,” she said.
You have to give it to people like Camille, standing out there in the sweltering heat for hours. As soon as the president arrived, they left and said, I’m happy and now I need a drink and food!
“I think he is out for all of us despite what the Democrats try to tell him, that he’s going to do away with Medicare and Social Security, it’s just so much fake news we have to get out and vote red,” said Carlotta Dixon of Fort Myers.
“He made his mark four years ago everyone that I know we’re behind him,” said Lisa Byrd, also of Fort Myers.
Some people out there told us this day marks one of the best days of their lives. They adore this town, they idolize this president and most really felt like they got to be a part of history.
Even if they didn’t have a ticket and couldn’t get inside, standing behind some barricades in the heat was a blast for these people, and each came with their very own wish for the day.
“We’re hoping at least a wave. He likes his people. We’re hoping he’ll at least come out and wave,” said Fran Johnson.
“I’d love Trump to sign my cast, oh my God, I’d save this cast for the rest of my life. I’m not kidding you,” said Michelle Thomas.
“Just to see the president, my commander in chief,” said one supporter.
“I have to be here! I love him, I love him, I love him,” said Kim Remer.
“If the president saw my sign, and just made a loop around, and gave me a thumbs-up,” said Lisa Longeo, “what more can you ask for?”
Seniors and healthcare
Supporters also lined up along the motorcade route told us they came away fulfilled, getting their chance at a glance, a smile or even a wave from the president.
After a quick trip to Ft Myers, @POTUS waves goodbye to his supporters. So many people lined MLK Blvd hoping to catch a glimpse, cheer him on, wave hello or fly their flags. We could see the president clear as day, smiling even pointing and waving right at us. @winknews pic.twitter.com/8j72yOWxPR
— Dannielle Garcia WINK News (@Dannielle_Garci) October 16, 2020
They said the president could not have picked a more important issue to talk about with seniors.
“We need good healthcare and services for seniors,” said Mary Bartoschuk. “Food, provided transportation and stuff like that, especially in this area.”
“That’s all important to us as we age,” added Sandy Opeahl. “This election, to me, is about what is the best choice for our country in the future.”
“I do hope Republicans get something going. I think they didn’t last time because they didn’t know how firm they could depend on him but we sure know now,” said Shandy Klaus, and that includes the president’s handling of the pandemic.
“We know it’s not a hoax, we know it exists, but we’re all in first responders or healthcare. Our daughter’s in healthcare, our son is a firefighter. They’re all EMTs and they’re all watching this closely,” said Klaus.
“Hopefully, he keeps Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid alive and everything,” said Charles Higbie. He says his life depends on the next president’s plan for seniors. “I have Parkinson’s so that’s what I need…I have a disability but I’m not on disability but I probably will have to be in the next year or two.”
Higbie said he was determined to brave Friday’s heat to see the president. He missed out on seeing Trump before, but not today. Friday, his mission was to let the president know that he has his support.
“Protecting America’s Seniors”
The message was plastered all over the wall — “Protecting America’s Seniors.”
“I’m honored to be here in Fort Myers to reaffirm my pledge to American seniors,” the president said.
He spent most of his time talking about what he’s done for seniors.
“There are three thousand more medicare advantage plans today than there were three years ago,” he said, and the crowd ate it up.
The president spoke directly to the seniors in the room and those watching on TV and online, sympathizing with them, saying he knows they’ve had it the hardest with the coronavirus.
There was a big response after Trump claimed his administration had reduced the COVID-19 fatality rate by 85%. The audience stood and cheered.
Trump said his heart mourns for those lost to COVID-19, so he promised them they will be first in line for the vaccine.
He made the room laugh when he said, “I’m a senior! And I’m still here,” referring to his recent coronavirus diagnosis.
Despite the event being a White House event, where discussing the opponent is supposed to be limited, President Trump mentioned the Bidens several times.
“What a disgrace,” he said. “It’s a crime family. You want to know something? It’s a crime family. He’s following his father. Hunter Biden is a middleman!!!!”
The president said it doesn’t matter what Joe Biden wants to call it — single-payer option, universal healthcare — he joked that it all means the same thing.
The president also noted officials in the audience, noting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ popularity. “I thought Elvis had entered the room,” Trump said on the governor’s reception, who got a standing ovation a minute or two before POTUS took the stage.
President Trump knew his crowd. When he wasn’t talking to seniors about social security, bringing premiums and drug prices down, he touched on other important voting issues. He spoke to the veterans and spoke about immigration.
“When you give free health care and education millions and millions are going to come in. it’s unstoppable. We can’t have that,” he said.
He also talked about what will happen come election night. “Friendly transition of power,” the president said. “Will there be a friendly transition of power? Of course there will. but I don’t think there will be a transition.”
Excerpts on President Trump’s remarks provided by the White House are listed at the end of this article.
The president exited the convention center to the sound of YMCA.
The audience was estimated to be about 50% seniors.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: President Trump’s Fort Myers visit to focus on senior citizens
Inside the convention center
Before Trump’s arrival, inside the Caloosa Sound Convention Center, it was very calm with relaxing music playing and people chatting and taking photos earlier this afternoon.
As the president made his way through Fort Myers to the convention center, upbeat music started playing and seniors were dancing, our reporter said.
Seats were spread out and most seniors were wearing masks and practicing social distancing until the very end of the president’s speech when many of them rushed to the stage to get a photo.
To get inside, attendees had to go through multiple security checkpoints including two temperature checks, a metal detector and a K9. The audience was not tested for COVID-19, but our crew was, since they will be close to the president.
Happening on social
President Trump arrives in Fort Myers, Florida! #MAGA🇺🇸🦅 pic.twitter.com/eCJRbI77L1
— Dan Scavino🇺🇸🦅 (@DanScavino) October 16, 2020
In appeal to seniors, Trump to say at upcoming speech in Fort Myers, Florida: “I am moving heaven and earth to safeguard our Seniors from the China Virus, to deliver life-saving therapies in record time, and to distribute a SAFE and EFFECTIVE vaccine BEFORE the end of the year.”
— darlene superville (@dsupervilleap) October 16, 2020
Trump is in Fort Myers today and so is his body double. #MAGA pic.twitter.com/GWc3YJwOUE
— Darrin (@dazdix) October 16, 2020
Pres Trump boards Air Force One in Miami for flight to Fort Myers and campaign outreach to nation’s seniors. Later in the day, he has rallies in Ocala, FL and then Macon, GA. pic.twitter.com/4qFa5TcnMt
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) October 16, 2020
“I happen to be a senior,” Trump says in Fort Myers, Fla., as he begins speech geared toward important voting group.
— Alex Leary (@learyreports) October 16, 2020
“You devoted your life to this country and I’m devoting my life to you.” – President Donald J. Trump speaking to seniors, Fort Myers, Florida 10/16/20#MAGA #VoteTrump pic.twitter.com/iQQo6mY6Ml
— Manuel Rosado 🎃 (@RedStateRican) October 16, 2020
JUST ANNOUNCED: We have finalized a partnership with @CVSHealth and @Walgreens to deliver the Coronavirus vaccine, when approved, directly to nursing homes—at no cost to seniors! pic.twitter.com/VnDERNsZ9v
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) October 16, 2020
Excerpts from President Donald J. Trump’s remarks on Protecting America’s Seniors (as prepared)
I am honored to be here in Fort Myers to reaffirm my solemn pledge to America’s Seniors: I will protect you, I will defend you, and I will fight for you with every ounce of energy and conviction that I have.
As President, I am deeply aware that America’s 54 million seniors have borne the heaviest burden of the China Virus.
My message to America’s seniors today is one of optimism, confidence, and hope.
I am moving heaven and earth to safeguard our Seniors from the China Virus, to deliver life-saving therapies in record time, and to distribute a SAFE and EFFECTIVE vaccine BEFORE the end of the year. Seniors will be the FIRST in Line for the vaccine and we will soon END the pandemic.
When the China Virus arrived, we launched the largest mobilization since World War II.
Since the beginning, our nation’s seniors have been my TOP PRIORITY.
We sent billions of dollars in funding and Personal Protective Equipment, and distributed rapid testing systems to all 15,400 nursing homes in the country to screen all residents and staff.
Because of advances in treatment we pioneered, we have reduced the fatality rate by 85 percent since April.
I am also working with the FDA and HHS to make the anti-body treatment I received available to everyone who needs it for FREE.
As we shelter high-risk Americans with extreme vigilance, we must also allow lower-risk Americans to return to work and school.
We cannot allow unscientific, panic-driven, fear-based policies to deny our children and grandchildren their future and their dreams.
Left-wing lockdowns will crush America – my plan will crush the virus.
As we gather today, seniors are under threat from a Radical Left movement that seeks to destroy the American Way of Life.
Their plan to delay the vaccine, delay therapies, and prolong the pandemic will cost thousands of lives.
Their plan for higher taxes and crippling regulations will crater the economy.
Their insane energy policies will ban fracking, abolish millions of jobs, and cost seniors thousands of dollars per year in higher energy bills.
Their anti-police agenda will empower violent mobs and put every community at risk.
The plan by Washington Democrats to give amnesty and free healthcare to illegal border-crossers will obliterate Medicare and bankrupt Social Security – robbing you of the benefits you have paid into your entire lives.
They care more about illegal aliens than Senior Citizens.
As long as I am President, NO ONE will lay a hand on your Medicare or Social Security.
As a candidate, I made a sacred promise that I would strengthen, protect, and defend your Medicare benefits– and that is exactly what I have done.
Under eight years of the previous administration, premiums for Medicare health plans went up – including a 25 percent increase right here in Florida. Under my administration, we have lowered Medicare Advantage Premiums by a remarkable 34 percent nationwide – to the lowest level in 14 years.
Thanks to our efforts, there are 2,000 more Medicare Advantage plans today than there were 3 years ago.
Yet all of this progress is now in grave danger.
Over 130 Democrats in Congress, including far-left Senator Kamala Harris, are sponsoring a socialist healthcare plan that would annihilate Medicare.
Socialist healthcare plans ALWAYS end up denying care and coverage to the sick and elderly in order to control costs.
Democrat healthcare proposals would abolish private insurance for 180 million Americans – and abolish the Medicare Advantage program that benefits 24 million seniors.
Under my administration, your Medicare Advantage is safe, your benefits are protected – and I will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions.
We have lowered Part D prescription drug premiums by 12 percent, saving seniors nearly $1.9 billion.
I capped out-of-pocket costs for insulin at $35 a month or less for seniors in many Medicare drug plans – saving them an average of nearly $450 a year.
Day after day, I am fighting to defend our seniors from the virus, from the Big Pharma special interests, and from the radical socialist left.
America’s seniors remind us that we have inherited an extraordinary legacy. You are the generation that defeated fascism, triumphed over communism, sent American astronauts to the moon, and built our country into the greatest and most powerful nation the world has ever known.
You have protected us – and now I am protecting you.
For our nation, for our great seniors, and for our beloved children and grandchildren, THE BEST IS YET TO COME!