presidential campaigns

Trump's Opa-Locka Rally Draws Thousands, Raising COVID Concerns

South Florida was Trump's last stop on a whirlwind tour of swing states including Michigan, Iowa, North Carolina and Georgia

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What to Know

  • Crowds were packed onto tarmacs at the airport, cheering well past the county's midnight curfew
  • South Florida was Trump's last stop on a whirlwind tour of swing states including Michigan, Iowa, North Carolina and Georgia
  • GOP officials were seen handing out masks and hand sanitizer to those needing them before boarding buses to the event

Thousands of enthusiastic supporters gathered at the Opa-Locka Executive Airport Sunday evening to cheer President Donald Trump in a late night rally aimed at gaining support in the critical swing state of Florida with just over one day left before Election Day.

Crowds were packed onto tarmacs at the airport, cheering well past the county's midnight curfew.

"We are going to win my home state of Florida," said Trump, who changed residency to his Mar-a-Lago home while in office. "When we win, we'll get four more years in the White House."

South Florida was Trump's last stop on a whirlwind tour of swing states including Michigan, Iowa, North Carolina and Georgia. Throughout the day, his supporters had gathered at various locations, including in Tropical Park along Bird Road for a drive-in rally.

Further north, others flocked to Amelia Earhart Park in the afternoon to board busses heading to the event while others lined up early in the morning.

One Trump supporter from Hialeah, Belky Jimenez, told NBC 6 that she was voting for the president because of the pandemic, saying that "I just want him to open up America; it’s ready. We can’t keep having the kids locked up in the house, people are suffering."

Supporters at the rally jammed into cordoned-off sections and few were seen wearing facial masks.

The president's campaign has repeatedly defended its campaign tactics. In response to a newly published study from Stanford researchers that suggests Trump's recent rallies have resulted in tens of thousands of coronavirus cases, Trump spokesperson Courtney Parella said, “Americans have the right to gather under the First Amendment to hear from the President of the United States.”

“We take strong precautions for our campaign events, requiring every attendee to have their temperature checked, providing masks they’re instructed to wear, and ensuring access to plenty of hand sanitizer. We also have signs at our events instructing attendees to wear their masks,” she added.

Officials from the Republican National Committee were seen handing out masks and hand sanitizer to those needing them before boarding buses to the event.

Trump expressed frustration that the surging cases of the virus that has killed more than 230,000 Americans so far this year remains prominent in the news, sparking chants of “Fire Fauci” from his supporters.

“Don’t tell anybody but let me wait until a little bit after the election,” Trump replied to thousands of supporters just after midnight Monday, adding he appreciated their “advice.”

Trump's event had originally been scheduled to start at 11:30 p.m., and questions immediately arose about whether attendees would be penalized for violating Miami-Dade County's curfew.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez confirmed in a press release Sunday that the county "has confirmed with the RNC, the permit holder for President Trump’s rally planned for the airport in Opa-Locka, that the outdoor event will begin at 9:30 p.m. and is expected to end before midnight."

By the time Trump actually walked on the stage to greet his supporters, though, it was 11:45 p.m.

“As with any other events, the County will continue to enforce the curfew,” Gimenez had said earlier in the day. “We will be flexible, as we have been with recent late-ending sporting events, so that people get home safely.”

https://twitter.com/MayorGimenez/status/1322982091437518848

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden criticized the event in a statement, stating that "as cases continue to rise ahead of Election Day, President Trump offers no plan to contain the spread of the coronavirus, or a plan to get the more than 750,000 Floridians who’ve lost their jobs in this crisis back to work."

"This rally isn’t for Floridians; it’s to fuel his own ego, with no regard for the issues working Floridians face every day," Biden added. "The good news is the end of President Trump’s failed leadership is near. Floridians have the power to make a change through your vote."

Biden leads Trump among Latino voters by about a 2-1 margin, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll released Sunday.

Throughout the day, Trump supporters gathered at various locations.

The poll finds that 62 percent of Latinos support Biden, while 29 percent support Trump. In 2016, according to exit polls, Hillary Clinton’s margin of victory among Latinos was 66 percent to 28 percent.

Still, their engagement in the election lags behind other voter groups, which could be a warning sign for Democrats hoping to bank Latino votes for Biden and other Democratic candidates in key battleground states like Arizona, Florida and Texas. Sixty-seven percent say their interest in the election ranks a 9 or a 10 out of 10, compared with 87 percent of white voters and 80 percent of Black voters.

The oversample of Latino voters was conducted in conjunction with the NBC/WSJ national poll fielded October 29-31, 2020. The margin of error for 410 interviews is +/- 4.84 percentage points.

Miami-Dade County mayoral candidate Daniella Levine Cava released a statement against the president's Opa-Locka rally in Miami Sunday, claiming that Trump's disregard for the county's curfew was an affront to the community's efforts against the coronavirus.

Florida Republicans, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Rick Scott and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez attended Sunday's event.

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