One of the most controversial figures connected with the Trump administration made a stop in The Villages on Monday night.
Former political adviser Roger Stone, who is under indictment on charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller during his Russian collusion probe, received a long standing ovation as he took the stage to address an overflow crowd during a Villagers for Trump meeting at Lake Miona Recreation Center.
“Let me tell you the main reason I’m here,” Stone said, after explaining that he was forbidden by a gag order from discussing his indictment or Mueller’s investigation. “As I have for the last 40 years, I stand with President Donald Trump.”
In fact, Stone said, he first encouraged Trump to run for president in 1988. He said he urged him to run again in 2000 and then in 2012 as well.
“Because I thought correctly that Mitt Romney was a loser,” he said of the Republican nominee who was heavily supported by The Villages Developer and many tri-county residents. “But I now realize that even 2012 was probably too early. It was really only after eight years of Barrack Obama that the voters reached a point where they lost trust in all political institutions – both parties.”
That’s when something very important happened, Stone said.
“No longer did you have to be a governor, a senator or a general to become president,” he said. “Donald Trump has broken the mold. His nomination and election was the hostile takeover of the Republican Party.”
Stone also took a few minutes to examine the Democratic challengers Trump could face in his 2020 re-election bid, starting with Joe Biden, who in October 2008 paid a surprise visit to The Villages to get an ice cream cone at Kilwins Chocolates & Ice Cream in Spanish Springs Town Square.
“For those of you who have not been on the internet in the last couple of hours, a second woman has now come forward discussing how Joe Biden inappropriately touched her,” Stone said. “And when it comes to the war on drugs, no one has put more black people or poor people in jail than Joe Biden. I believe Donald Trump would beat him like a drum.”
Stone said that another possible candidate, Sen. Kamala Harris, has a similar track record of putting blacks in jail for the non-violent crime of possession of small amounts of drugs. And he joked about her recent claims from her college years.
“In an effort to be cool, she said as a Jamaican she smoked marijuana listening to Snoop (Dogg) and Tupac (Shakur),” Stone said. “Except for neither one of them had recorded when she was in college.”
Stone also pointed out that another possible Democratic candidate, Sen. Cory Booker, has said he’s in favor of judicial term limits.
“That’s not necessarily a bad idea, but why don’t we start with term limits for U.S. senators and congressman,” Stone said, to a round of applause.
Stone, who also spoke to Villagers for Trump in February 2018, said he’s deeply concerned about voter fraud across the country.
“If you need an ID to get on an airplane, if you need an ID to buy a pack of cigarettes, why not a photo ID to vote,” he said. It is not racist. It is not discriminatory. If you care enough to vote, go get your ID and take it to the polling places.”
Stone talked generically about his January arrest when he was taken from his South Florida home in shackles and charged with obstruction of justice, witness tampering and making false statements to Congress. He has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges and is awaiting a Nov. 5 trial, where he could face up to 50 years in prison if found guilty of all of the charges. In a private interview with Villages-News.com, he said he appreciates the support of crowds like the one who came to hear him speak in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown.
“Over 38,000 Americans have contributed to my legal defense fund,” he said. “I find the reaction that people offer me, not only their prayers but their contributions, really heartening.”
Stone said he needs to raise $2 million to mount a solid defense as he fights the charges against him. His fund, Stonedefensefund.com, topped $100,000 last month.
“I pled not guilty and I will be vindicated,” he said. “But that takes a herculean and most expensive effort.”
Stone blamed some of his woes on the mainstream media, saying they have been predicting for two years that he would be indicted for treason, conspiracy or colluding with Russia – all charges he isn’t facing.
“I’ve lost my home, my savings, my insurance, my car, and to a great degree, my ability to make a living by speaking about politics,” he said, referring to the gag order a judge has placed on him. “So I don’t have the wherewithal to pay for my own legal defense or I would gladly do so. I have no choice but to count on, hopefully before it’s over, millions of Americans who support me and support the president.”
Stone told the crowd that greatness doesn’t come in victory, but rather from how many times you get up when you have been knocked down.
“A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is only finished when he quits,” Stone said, quoting his mentor, President Richard Nixon. “Donald Trump will never quit trying to make America great again and I will never quit trying to clear my name.”
After Stone’s address, Villagers for Trump founder David Gee said he was quite impressed with what he had to say, as well as the crowd attending the event.
“It was a very powerful night,” he said, referring not only to Stone’s speech but the positive religious overtones of the meeting that included an extremely spiritual prayer and song. “We’re bringing more Christian core values to the table with the intent that we really want to get our churches in the tri-county area involved in the voting process. And I think tonight was a home run for that.”