Ten members of Villagers for Trump are expected to have a private gathering with President Trump when he visits The Villages on Tuesday.
The president is expected to speak about Medicare to a small, invitation-only crowd at The Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center. The selected group of Villagers for Trump members have been asked to also address that topic with the president in a more intimate setting.
In addition, the grassroots organization that formed in The Villages a little more than a year ago and now boasts more than 1,700 members has been able to secure some tickets to the event from various sources. Those who will be attending have expressed excitement and are looking forward to hearing the president speak after spending countless hours at various events working on his behalf.
The time for Trump’s visit or the exact guest list hasn’t yet been announced. The Sharon holds about 1,000 people but indications are that the invited crowd will be significantly smaller.
Trumps topic of Medicare is timely because the president recently proposed sweeping changes in his latest budget that are being viewed by some as drastic cuts – to the tune of more than $845 billion over the next 10 years.
But an official in the Office of Management and Budget repeatedly has claimed that the president isn’t cutting Medicare but instead is axing waste and abuse and pushing reforms that lower drug costs – an area where the government agency spends a great deal of money.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was endorsed by Trump in 2016, paid a recent visit to The Villages to sign a bill that could allow Floridians to save money by getting prescription drugs from Canada. That plan, which must be approved by the federal government, has drawn praise from the president and seems to flow along with his efforts to cut Medicare drug costs.
There’s no question that Trump is aware of Villagers for Trump, the organization that clearly has become the choice of Villages Republicans seeking to be active in politics. In 2016 he tweeted a photo of a golf cart owned by member Denise Neal that sported yellow tissue paper on its roof made to look like the president’s hair. That golf cart, which he expressed admiration for, has been a staple in several Villagers for Trump golf cart parades that typically run through Lake Sumter Landing and then onto Spanish Springs Town Square.
The group’s members also are known for holding flag-waving events, which included a recent gathering at a busy intersection in Wildwood that saw many truckers honking their airhorns in support; and another on Trump’s birthday – Flag Day – in The Villages. And they recently started selling Trump 2020 bottled water that has been quite popular with their membership.
The president also got a firsthand look at some of Villagers for Trump’s work in November 2018 when the group’s vice president, Jim Volpe, chatted with him at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach. While they were together, Volpe showed the president the program from the group’s 2018 Trump Day Dinner, which he said impressed the commander-in-chief quite a bit.
“President Trump immediately thanked me and Villagers For Trump for their support,” Volpe said. “He loved the program.”
To his surprise, Volpe added, the president asked him his opinion regarding the rally he held in Tampa with then-Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis on July 31. That event, which was heavily attended by area residents, took place on the night after DeSantis held a rally at a Villagers for Trump meeting in The Villages at the Laurel Manor Recreation Center.
“I immediately answered, ‘You won the election for Ron DeSantis,’” Volpe said of the former congressman, who carried an endorsement from Trump throughout his tight race against Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who was endorsed by former President Obama, notorious trial attorney John Morgan of Morgan & Morgan and “Blacklist” actress Megan Boone, who is the granddaughter of late Villages Developer Gary Morse and the daughter of Villages Vice President of Sales Jennifer Parr.
As for Tuesday’s event, Suzanne Zimmerman, who serves as communications chair for Villagers for Trump, said members of the organization couldn’t be much more thrilled about the president’s decision to visit Florida’s Friendliest Hometown after all the hard work they’ve put into supporting him.
“We’re excited that President Trump has recognized he has a hotbed here of supporters on fire and energized who celebrate his accomplishments,” she said. “He makes our campaigning for him so easy when we can point to the promises he’s made and kept, in spite of all the slams and errors sent his way.”
Zimmerman said she finds it quite easy to support Trump and everything he stands for.
“Who wouldn’t feel safe on the battlefield with a warrior who not only has the vision and courage to charge ahead but who we can trust has our backs when adversity and tough challenges appear insurmountable,” she said. “I’m with him. And we feel honored he is coming to our slice of paradise.”