OCALA, Fla. — Trailing in the polls 18 days before the November 3 election, President Donald Trump flies into Ocala this afternoon as the Trump campaign continues to emphasize Central Florida and the coveted electoral votes of the Sunshine State.
The president is scheduled to arrive at 4 p.m. for the rally at Ocala International Airport. Public access opens at 1 p.m. Supporters gathered early this morning, waiting in chairs and tents to ensure spots in the front of the line.
It marks Trump’s second Central Florida visit this week. On Monday, the president spoke to an overflowing crowd in Sanford, where supporters lined up hours early to secure seats in intense heat. Trump’s visit came two days after Vice President Mike Pence appeared at The Villages retirement community and at a “Latinos for Trump” event in Orlando.
As the biggest battleground state, Florida is essential to the Trump campaign and to the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, whose lead over the president in the state has narrowed into a tight race, according to some opinion polls — in one case into a statistical tie.
Some polls show Biden holding onto or expanding double-digit leads nationally, developments that Trump has written off as “fake news.”
“Polls numbers are looking very strong,” the president wrote early Friday on Twitter. “Big crowds, great enthusiasm. Massive RED WAVE coming!!!”
Trump is wrapping a week that saw him speak in Pennsylvania, Iowa, and North Carolina. Like most of his supporters, Trump has been appearing at his rallies without a mask, despite his own recent coronavirus diagnosis that forced the president to postpone the Sanford rally from early this month to this week.
Trump continues to play to his base, as he did in Sanford, with references to God, pledges to uphold the Second Amendment, and scorn and ridicule for political rivals, especially Biden. He repeatedly warns supporters that Biden carries a socialist agenda, even as Biden and others point to Biden’s record as otherwise.
The president will appear in Ocala — then this evening in Macon, Georgia — at the end of a week that saw his controversial Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, complete four days of Senate confirmation hearings. And he’s appearing in Florida just a day after a contentious NBC town hall appearance with moderator Savannah Guthrie, who challenged Trump on topics such as the QAnon conspiracy theory, his personal coronavirus testing, and his reported hundreds of millions of dollars of debt.
In yet another active morning on Twitter, Trump tweeted Friday: “Very good reviews on last night’s @NBCNews Town Hall in Miami. Thank you!!!”
Spectrum News 13’s Justin Soto contributed to this report.