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Trump entertains crowd in Florida by ripping Joe Biden

Sun Sentinel logoSun Sentinel 12/13/2021 Brittany Wallman, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Christopher Hill, dressed as Donald Trump is flanked by Jaime Morton and Simona Fabicovicova at the entrance to the FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Florida on Saturday, December 11, 2021. They were waiting to see President Donald J. Trump and Bill O'Reilly during their national tour. © Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun Sentinel Christopher Hill, dressed as Donald Trump is flanked by Jaime Morton and Simona Fabicovicova at the entrance to the FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Florida on Saturday, December 11, 2021. They were waiting to see President Donald J. Trump and Bill O'Reilly during their national tour.

Former President Trump delivered a dose of history — from his vantage point — Saturday to an army of supporters in Sunrise.

That meant deriding the current president, claiming the election was stolen, and portraying the country under Joe Biden as a crime-ridden, inflation-plagued mockery overrun by foreign criminals.

In other words, the event was “peak Trump,” and his fans reacted with applause, standing ovations and — when appropriate — loud booing.

Thousands of people donned their red baseball caps or favorite Donald Trump T-shirts in the FLA Live Arena to see the former president and conservative darling Bill O’Reilly.

“Our country in my opinion is no longer respected,” he said. " … Every country in the world takes advantage of the United States.”

Later he added, “it’s a horrible thing to say but I don’t feel America, right now, is great.”

While Trump had nothing pleasant to say about President Biden, whom he said he doesn’t know personally — he did compliment former President Barack Obama. The crowd booed at his name, but Trump followed with, “I liked him.”

He said Obama is “smart and sharp.” He criticized Obama’s methods, though, blaming him for causing “tremendous division” and hatred in America.

He said he doesn’t believe those who claim Obama is secretly running the country for Biden — echoing those with “O’Biden” t-shirts — because he said Obama likes to golf too much and wouldn’t do it.

Trump said violent dictators he was friendly with — Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and North Korean President Kim Jong-Un — don’t respect Biden.

Trump got along with them well, he said, when asked who his favorite world leaders were.

“The ones I did the best with were the tyrants,” he said. “… For whatever reason, I got along great with them. … Isn’t that better than having a nuclear war?”

Trump talked about Democrat-run cities he said are being ruined by “Antifa and Black Lives Matter,” looting businesses.

O’Reilly interjected: “You don’t see that in Florida because here, if they break in, you can shoot them.”

The crowd went wild.

Discussion of Gov. Ron DeSantis also brought huge applause.

Trump praised DeSantis — and took credit for helping him win with “a beautiful endorsement.”

He said DeSantis was always defending him, then came and asked for his endorsement in the governor’s race. Asked about DeSantis as a vice president if Trump were to run again, he said, “Ron would be good,” but so would many others.

Mention of another Florida governor, Jeb Bush, elicited loud boos. Bush was the target of Trump’s jabs when the two competed for the Republican nomination for president. The two have been political enemies since.

The show was kicked off with a surprise intro by Glenn Beck, a conspiracy-theory advancer and political commentator. He mocked President Biden with an incoherent jumble of words: “shoe … parrot … popsicle.”

O’Reilly said he asked Trump to do the shows because the media — the target of much scorn by the two Saturday — did not properly cover his presidency.


Video: Biden pays tribute to late Sen. Bob Dole at US Capitol (ABC News)

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Trump said tougher libel laws would help. O’Reilly said “that’s better than my solution, which is a machine gun.”

Trump also touched on the Jan. 6 uprising.

He said a tiny fraction invaded the Capitol, but most of the people were just there to protest the “rigged” election and loved each other.

“There was love in the air,” he said. He criticized former Vice President Mike Pence — to more loud boos — for allowing the election to be certified.

“I say the insurrection was on Nov. 3,” he said of election day, “and the protest was on Jan. 6.”

Before Trump took the stage, the crowd had chanted, “Let’s go, Brandon.”

The chant is an inside joke among Trump supporters, a derogatory chorus that became popular when a crowd chanting “F--- Joe Biden,” was misheard.

Many seats remained empty in the cavernous arena. The top level was closed and ticket buyers were “upgraded” to the lower bowl.

Kay Peters, wrapped in a flag scarf, peering through flag sunglasses and wearing a “Make America great again” cap, extolled Trump’s virtues before walking inside.

She traveled from Fort Pierce to see “my two favorite people in the world,” a statement her son responded to with a cheerful acknowledgement: “I know there’s a hierarchy.”

Peters said she couldn’t speak about Trump without crying.

“I’m 95 years old,” she said. “I remember what a patriotic country we were in the ‘40s, in the ‘50s.”

Peters said she believes Trump can save the country.

It goes beyond that, she added.

“I feel God sent him to save our country.”

Her son, David Peters of Miami, 65, said it’s unfair to label Trump supporters as monolithic. He said he liked Trump’s economic policies and doesn’t have to embrace all of Trump — and his New Yorker mouth — in order to support him.

“There’s more that binds us together than divides us,” he said of Americans.

Not everyone was so genial.

Members of the Proud Boys white nationalists — a group that has resorted to political violence to achieve its ends — were present.

Also present: many espousers of the false theory, propagated by Trump himself, that “Trump won” the election.

Trump, a South Floridian now, has been friends for years with O’Reilly and was a regular guest on FOX’s “The O’Reilly Factor.” In 2017, Trump publicly supported O’Reilly and called him a “good person” when O’Reilly was accused of sexual harassment.

Though Broward County is a bastion of Democrats, Trump still receives a warm welcome; he won hundreds of thousands of votes in South Florida. In the 2020 election, Florida went for Trump, boosted by voters in Miami-Dade County.

The arena, situated just off the Sawgrass Expressway in western Broward County’s city of Sunrise, is a central location for Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade fans to convene. (Many still know it by its former name, the BB&T Center, home of the Florida Panthers hockey team.)

The show moves to Orlando on Sunday, Houston on Dec. 18, and Dallas on Dec. 19.

Unlike Trump’s campaign and presidency rallies, which were free of charge, this event was for paying customers.

A ticket in front of the stage was listed on Ticketmaster on Thursday night for $7,500 plus fees, for a total of $7,839.45: “Includes One Seat in the front row 45 Minute Pre-Show Meet and Greet and a picture of ticketholder with President Donald J. Trump and Bill O’Reilly.”

Most seats, though, went for $100 plus fees ($138 total), to hear “The History Tour,” with the tantalizing-to-fans premise that Trump would “provide a never-before-heard inside view of his administration — which will be historical in and of itself.”

According to a spokeswoman for Broward County’s hockey arena, there were no “special media accommodations for the show,” and journalists — like any member of the public — could not take a laptop, recording device or professional camera.

Masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 were not required.

Brittany Wallman can be reached at bwallman@sunsentinel.com. Follower her on Twitter @brittanywallman

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