Trump supporters gathering in West Palm Beach have a birthday wish -- another term as president

Anthony Man and Abigail Hasebroock, South Florida Sun-Sentinel on

Published in Political News

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The thousands of Donald Trump supporters who gathered Friday in West Palm Beach for a combination campaign rally and birthday celebration all seemed to support his wish — to win another term as president.

“I love him,” said Judith Seide, 67, of Wellington, who attended with her husband, Fritz Seide. “He did good for the country. I would like him to get in power in ’24.”

Larry Snowden, president of the Club 47, the pro-Trump organization that sponsored the event, said the turnout showed that people “want to be close to President Trump.”

“It says a lot of things to me. It proves to me the court cases have done nothing but generate more support and enthusiasm for President Trump,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is one of the candidates hoping Trump picks him as his vice presidential running mate, offered extensive praise for the former president and bashed President Joe Biden in one of the warmup speeches.

“Americans know that under Donald Trump, America was prosperous, and under Joe Biden, our economy is a disaster. A disaster,” he said. “When Donald Trump was president, America was safer. Safer. When Donald Trump was president our border was secured and not out of control. … Now we have Joe Biden. And under Joe Biden, the world is completely out of control. Out of control.”

Rubio claimed that Democrats “have a mentally incompetent man as their candidate and our president.”

After Rubio left the stage, a large layer cake was brought on stage — topped with a MAGA hat.

Rubio’s speech followed a high-wattage group of other warmup speakers — including five members of Congress — serving red-hot rhetoric to fire up the crowd.

“We had the greatest president in the entire history of the United States,” said U.S. Rep. Ronnie Jackson, R-Texas. “Now we have the absolute worst president to ever set foot in the Oval Office.”

When Jackson served as White House physician, he famously gave Trump a glowing bill of health. He later was demoted after the inspector general substantiated allegations of inappropriate behavior in that job.

“I’ve been there, I’ve seen what it takes mentally and physically to do the job of president. And I can tell you right now, Biden is not there. He is not mentally fit to be our commander in chief, to be our president,” Jackson said.

Many people started lining up at the Palm Beach County Convention Center long before the doors opened, which was hours before the speeches began.

All said it was worth the wait. None said they had any qualms about supporting Trump’s bid for a return to the White House, even after he was convicted of 34 felony convictions in New York and has other criminal charges pending.

“The conviction and the charges against him is the liberal attempt to keep him out of office,” said Charlotte Gomes, of Loxahatchee.

Julie Kantor, of Port St. Lucie, said her support hasn’t been swayed, calling the charges “bogus.”

Allison Sneed, 60, wearing glittery TRUMP pins over a sequined American flag top, was defiant. “They can throw a million convictions at him. I’ll still vote for him,” she said. “We are going to vote for our felon; we don’t care.”


Dig deep enough, Gomes said, and something untoward can be found in anyone’s past. “Although Trump might not be what the world considers a perfect man, he was a fantastic president. He proved it the first time.”

Gomes, 58, was excited to help mark Trump’s 78th birthday. She was wearing a glittering orange party hat — given to her by someone else in the line on the way in — emblazoned with “47 MAGA.” MAGA is the acronym for Make America Great Again, Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan; if he’s elected again, he’d be the 47th president.

Gomes said President Joe Biden must be defeated.

“Biden needs to be put out. He’s totally ineffective,” she said, adding that she sees the world as more dangerous under Biden than it was during Trump’s previous term.

“The economy is being destroyed by Biden’s policies,” she said.

Official figures show that inflation is moderating and unemployment is at the lowest levels in more than 50 years. Gomes, however, doesn’t believe the statistics.

Neither does Fritz Seide, who is an accountant and real estate broker.

Even though the economy tanked during Trump’s last year in office as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc, Seide said he was a better economic steward than Biden.

“He improved the economy. He made America great again. And now everything is down,” Seide said.

Kantor, 68, wearing an American flag-themed cowboy hat and vest, and her husband, Cary Kantor, arrived from Port St. Lucie at about 10:30 a.m., more than four hours before the doors opened and more than eight hours before Trump was scheduled to take the stage.

They’ve supported Trump since 2016, but Friday was the first time they’d come to see him at a live event.

If he’s elected again, Julie Kantor said she believes Trump will “fix the economy” and clean up corruption. “Things were better under Trump.”

People were in a celebratory mood. Sneed, from Sarasota, estimated she has been to more than 20 Trump rallies. “This is better than a concert,” she said.

“It’s so nice to be around such like-minded people,” remarked a person in one of lines at a women’s restroom. Another woman, also wearing a MAGA party hat, further back in the line, echoed the sentiment. “Better than being with my family. Some of them are so liberal!”


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