THE VILLAGES, Fla. — President Donald Trump told a cheering audience of thousands crowded together at an outdoor rally in The Villages on Friday that he would always "love, protect and defend our seniors."
Trump started his speech with a litany of complaints against his opponent Joe Biden for his policies on fossil fuels, immigration and the coronavirus pandemic. He claimed he would win Florida and the White House again on Nov. 3.
"All they talk about is COVID, COVID, COVID," Trump said, "because they want to scare people."
He said he would bring back an economy crippled by the pandemic. Playing off his longtime catchphrase, he declared, "We're going to make America Great Again, Again!"
Trump and former Vice President Biden both see Florida as crucial to victory in the election now just 11 days away, and both candidates are trying to shore up support with seniors, who historically break for Republicans.
In 2016, Trump carried The Villages and other Florida exurban areas by a wide margin over Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping him win the state. But this year, polls suggest that older Americans are not backing Trump nearly as much as they did in 2016, which could make The Villages vote the deciding factor in who wins Florida and its 29 Electoral College votes.
The RealClearPolitics average of Florida polls on Friday had Biden with 48.9% to 46.8% for Trump, a statistical tie.
In a warm-up speech, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said a victory for Joe Biden would lead to nationwide lockdowns to combat the virus, and he offered up Florida as a model for the country, despite a recent surge in positive cases.
"We will not let Joe Biden lock this country down," DeSantis said.
Later, Trump joked that "if we don't win, I'll never speak to him (DeSantis) again."