By Justin Chermol
President Trump is kicking off his 2020 re-election bid in Orlando, Florida Tuesday with an event called 45 Fest before the official announcement. The campaign's decision to host the celebration in Florida comes at no accident, it was a state Democrats were supposed to win in 2016, but ultimately lost by a thin margin.
"We can't win without Florida," Marc Lotter, director of strategic communications for Trump 2020, told Cheddar before the event. "But we're confident it is a Trump state."
In the 2018 midterm elections, Florida was a Trump state. The president helped pave the way for a GOP uprising in the purple state, with two upsets in both the gubernatorial and senate races.
Despite optimism from the Trump 2020 campaign, a Quinnipiac poll released the day-of the event showed Trump trailing some of the democratic presidential front-runners in Florida, including former Vice President Joe Biden, who leads the incumbent by nine points.
Nevertheless, voters traveled from all over the country to see the president.
"We have 100,000 people signed up for tickets for a venue that seats about 25,000," Lotter said. "Most of these people are not gonna make it inside, but they're out here today. They came out 42 hours before the president, through thunderstorms, through the heat, to all be here and see this. It's an amazing experience."
Richard Snowden, a Trump supporter from Las Vegas, Nevada has attended more than 50 of the president's rallies. Snowden said the president is doing a "terrific job" and added, "I first supported him because I believed in everything he espoused in that famous escalator ride down in Trump Tower." Sunday marked four years since Trump rode down the escalator to announce his bid for the White House.
But, Trump's visit to Orlando was also met with a not-so-warm welcome from the city's local news publication, the Orlando Sentinel, whose editorial board released a non-endorsement for the president on the day of 45 Fest with the headline: "Our Orlando Sentinel endorsement for president in 2020: Not Donald Trump".
Although the Sentinel did not endorse a specific Democratic candidate, or even a Republican for that matter, Marc Lotter feels no fear from the 20-plus candidates seeking to unseat Trump. To America's youth, Lotter pitched a saturated job market and booming economy as a reason to stick with the incumbent, and denounced the "radical policies" pushed by some of the top Democrats in the race.
"They're all gonna have to increase radical policies, like increasing taxes, eliminating people's private health insurance, it's not what the American people want," he said.