Now a Florida resident, President Trump held what his campaign dubbed a “homecoming rally” near Miami on Tuesday. During the rally, Mr. Trump continued to lash out at the ongoing impeachment inquiry in a state that will be crucial to his 2020 reelection bid.
The rally was Mr. Trump’s first in the state since he officially changed his residency last month from Trump Tower in New York to his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach. He received a warm welcome from a roaring crowd of nearly 20,000 at an arena in Sunrise.
“Welcome home to Florida,” the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, told him.
Mr. Trump spent much of his rally railing against Democrats, accusing them of “trying to rip our nation apart” with investigations.
“First it was the Russia hoax,” Mr. Trump said, “and now the same maniacs are pushing the deranged … impeachment” narrative. He insisted yet again that he had done nothing wrong in his dealings with Ukraine and argued anew that Democrats are only trying to take him down because “they know that they cannot win the next election.”
The House impeachment inquiry is entering its next phase after lawmakers last week completed their first round of public interviews concerning Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals. The House Intelligence Committee is now preparing a report on its findings, while the House Judiciary Committee is moving forward with its own hearings before it is expected to consider formal articles of impeachment.
Still, Mr. Trump insisted that voters aren’t being persuaded — despite polling to the contrary — and tried to assure his audience that “we won these last two weeks so solidly,” despite damning public testimony and unflattering press reports.
“You see what’s happening in the polls? Everybody said, ‘That’s really bulls***,'” Mr. Trump said, prompting a chant of the profanity to erupt from the crowd.
At the same time, Mr. Trump worked to butter up voters as he described his supporters as the “super elite.”
“You people are successful as hell,” he told them. “You’re smarter. You’re better looking. You’re sharper.”
While Mr. Trump won Florida in 2016, he only claimed 49% of the vote, and he lost Broward County, where he held the rally. Broward is the most Democratic part of the state — only 31% of voters wanted Mr. Trump to be president.
Mr. Trump also spent time discussing recent controversies, including an unannounced trip he paid to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on a Saturday this month.
Despite lingering questions about the visit, Mr. Trump assured the crowd that if he “didn’t feel great,” he “wouldn’t be ranting and raving” to crowds so large.
“They said he went into the hospital. And it’s true, I didn’t wear a tie. Why would I wear a tie? If the first thing they do is say, ‘Take off your shirt, sir, and show us that gorgeous chest. We’ve never seen a chest quite like it,'” he added.
He also complimented the state’s governor, at one point commenting on his physique and suggesting he wear jackets less frequently.
Throughout his presidency, Mr. Trump has spent many winter weekends and holidays in Florida, mingling with dues-paying members at Mar-a-Lago and golfing at the courses he owns nearby.
Mr. Trump decided last month to officially change his residency to Florida after long claiming he’d been mistreated by New York officials investigating his conduct and railing against the state’s management, including its high tax rate.
“Less than one year from now I will join voters across the Sunshine State, my home, as we head to the polls,” Mr. Trump told the crowd, predicting that, “together, we will win back the House, we will hold the Senate and we will keep that beautiful, beautiful White House.”
But not everyone was happy about his return.
About 200 anti-Trump protesters rallied on a street outside the BB&T Center before the president arrived, raising a helium-filled “Baby Trump” balloon as some chanted, “Lock him up.”