Donald Trump held a rally at the CFE arena on March 5 where a protest was also held. Veronica Brezina
Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” played over the speakers as attendees trickled into the Donald J. Trump for President Rally at the UCF’s CFE Arena on Saturday.
“You want to show Donald Trump that you love him?” Joe Gruters, vice chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, said before instructing rally attendees on opposite sides of the venue to chant “Donald Trump” in unison.
Showing up an hour late from his originally scheduled arrival of 2:30 p.m. due to a prior engagement in Kansas, Trump walked up to the lectern as the crowd roared and opened his speech with remarks about Marco Rubio’s statements regarding the size of his hands.
Trump then proceeded to refer to his chances against Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential contender currently leading in the primaries.
“Many polls have come out [indicating] that I’ll easily beat Hillary Clinton, and I want to tell you, you know, because you don’t hear about it on television,” Trump said to his supporters. “You watch these political pundits say, ‘Well, Trump can’t win the general election.’ We will beat her so badly, folks.”
Trump supporters nearly filled the CFE Arena’s capacity of 9,993 people. Many supporters clapped and cheered to any mention of how Trump funds his own campaign and is “against the establishment.”
“This whole thing that we’re doing is so special,” Trump expressed of his campaign's platform. “We are really derailing against the state. Let me tell you, the establishment is a disaster; the Republican establishment, they don’t know what they’re doing.
“The only reason that I’m pissed is that we need this kind of thinking to get rid of our $19 trillion dollar debt, to get rid of our tremendous deficits with every single country in the business world,” Trump added. "Why is it we are protecting Saudi Arabia for practically nothing? They wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for us. Why is it that every time I order thousands of television sets, I order them from South Korea?”
The main topics that generated the loudest cheers and applause from the rally’s attendees were Trump’s plans to build a wall on the shared border of Mexico and the United States, as well as his large financial contributions to his own presidential campaign.
“The thing I like about him is that -- the thing I noticed about American politics -- is that most of them have large super PACs behind them and big donors, whereas he doesn’t,” a Trump supporter from Alberta, Canada, Brent Robinson said. “So he’s free to say, just, whatever he wants. So he’s not speaking for others, that’s the main thing.
“I also like the fact that he’s not politically correct. That’s pretty refreshing in this day and age,” Robinson continued. “And thirdly, I work in the drilling gas industry and he supports Keystone, so any president who supports Keystone would make my life easier.”
The Keystone Robinson referred to is an oil pipeline system that runs from Alberta, Canada. to U.S. refineries in Illinois and Texas and oil tank farms in Oklahoma.
Trump has indeed contributed more of his personal wealth than other presidential contenders. At the end of 2015, nearly $13 million of his campaign’s $19.4 million was self-financed, according to Politifact.
“Who is the only candidate not bought and paid for by special interests? Who is going to make America great again?” Gruters rhetorically asked of the audience, which they enthusiastically replied to with repetitive chants of “Donald Trump.”
More than 15 instances of protesters disguised as Trump supporters interrupted Trump as he gave his speech throughout the afternoon. One protester became verbally aggressive and physically combative while another made references to the size of Trump’s penis as he was kicked out wearing a hat adorned with a male organ.
However, most protesters peacefully expressed their disapproval outside of the CFE Arena with handmade signs.
“I know too much about history to sit by and watch this happen,” said Gordon Woodworth, a sophomore music education major protesting at the Trump rally. “If you go back and look at just this last century, look at European history, look at [Adolf] Hitler, people did not think that Hitler would ever be the chancellor of Germany. Yet, over time, he raised support, and it was because people were openly saying hateful things about other groups of people, and when I watch what’s been going on in the news and all these people saying these things ... it’s very frightening to me. I thought America was for everybody, that’s the America I live in, that’s the America that I want to see.
“Trump has brought out a lot of people who are closet racists," added Woodworth, who has already made arrangements to move to the United Kingdom in case Trump becomes president. “They are now out of the closet, and it’s very frightening. And I am not going to stand for that. … I can’t sit at home and let this happen. I will not be apathetic while religious and racial minorities are demonized. It’s unacceptable.”
Referring to his chances of winning the primaries, Trump confidently assured his audience of supporters, “If we win Florida, believe me, it’s all over.”
On Super Tuesday, Trump won Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, Massachusetts and Vermont. Voting for the Florida primaries begins March 15, and early voting begins today, March 5.
Gabby Baquero is the Entertainment Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @Gabby_Baquero or email her at MariaB@centralfloridafuture.com.