Salvatore Ambrosino and John Christovich
Dueling rallies were held over a 12-hour timeline around Tampa Bay on Oct. 29 as President Donald Trump and political adversary Joe Biden competed for the Bay area’s electorate five days from the general election.
The coinciding rallies battle for an electorate population in Hillsborough County of slightly under 1 million. The Bay area makes up roughly 14% of Florida voters, causing it to be one of the most compact and voter-rich campaign tracts to swing the state’s electoral votes. At the end of a day-long marathon of pundit speakers, local leaders and electrified campaigning, supporters of both Biden and Trump met on the ground to clash for their candidate following close assemblies.
“We are doing incredibly in Florida,” Trump said to a majorly mask-less audience, arriving just after 2 p.m. outside of Raymond James Stadium, “we are creating the biggest Red Wave in the history of our country.”
Emboldening the strength of his presidential campaign, Trump repelled recent polling averages that had him falling behind in his residential state of Florida.
“And this isn’t based on polls,” Trump said. “This is based on fact, this is based on votes that are coming in.”
Trump’s supporters embraced the 87-degree weather throughout the duration of the 7-hour event. Tampa Fire Rescue reported responding to 17 medical calls during the rally, at least a dozen of those requiring hospitalization for further medical treatment. Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis even requested a medivac while on stage for a collapsing supporter when members of the crowd called for help.
A fire truck sprayed water over the crowd waiting for the president in the intense heat.
“Are they doing that on purpose,” Trump said upon his arrival. “Friend or foe? Let’s find out if they’re friend or foe, and if they’re foe let’s take care of those son-of-a-bitches.”
Trump’s 90-minute appeal in Florida included pollster bragging rights and regularly taking aim at socialism, the media and presidential rival Biden.
Despite the majority of national polls projecting a Biden lead amongst Latinx voters, Trump cited an unnamed poll which rated him higher than a Democratic candidate for the first time in history.
“According to the polls I’m sure which are real polls,” Trump said. “We are now beating the Democrats for the first time ever with Hispanic-Americans.”
The president zoned in on his own press pit, which was subject to harassment and hostile chants from the crowd throughout the rally.
“Ninety-four percent of the stories about us are negative,” Trump said, pointing at the cameras. “Sixty-four percent of stories about sleepy Joe are positive, how the hell do you write a positive story about this guy.”
Trump went on to run-down socialism, condemning it within his presidency.
“This election will decide whether our children will be condemned to the misery of socialism or whether they inherit the glorious legacy of American freedom,” Trump said.
Trump tore into Biden in multiple areas.
“For half a century, Joe Biden has been outsourcing jobs,” Trump said. “Opening your borders and sacrificing American blood and treasure in endless foreign wars.”
Presidential rival and former Vice President Joe Biden held an opposing rally on Thursday addressing voters in the contest for Florida 10 miles away at the Florida State Fairgrounds.
Beginning at 6:30 p.m., Florida Sen. Janet Cruz warmed up the invitational, asking members of the crowd to spread out. Members of the crowd booed Trump’s earlier rally after it was acknowledged by Florida Rep. Kathy Castor.
“Don’t boo,” Castor said. “We don’t agonize about it. We organize.”
Biden’s rally was shut down by a patented Tampa Bay rainstorm an hour after starting, allowing Biden only enough time to briefly rip into his Republican counterpart.
“They’re spreading more than the coronavirus,” Biden said. “They’re spreading division.”
Some of Biden’s supporters that were turned away at the gates stayed to verse an amassed group of right-wing rally crashers outside of the state fairgrounds.
A frenzy of waving flags and partisan allies lined and opposed each other across highway 301, just off the ramp to I4.
Supporters from both Biden and Trump rallies arrived unleashing car-honks and cadences for the next hour.
As police presence intensified, so did the megaphones.
“Four more years,” clashed with chants of “Go joe go,” both sides encroaching upon the road adjacent to the invite-only Biden rally.
Some from both sides ran across the busy highway to confront their political adversaries, protected from passing cars by highway patrol units directing traffic.
No arrests were reported to have come from the highway conflict.