Members of Villagers for Trump backed the president’s decision to postpone his trip to The Villages to talk about Medicare this week and instead travel to two cities that were rocked by mass shootings over the weekend.
President Trump and first lady Melania Trump spent Wednesday visiting Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, where the shootings left 31 people dead and more than 50 wounded. The El Paso attack happened this past Saturday morning at a Wal-Mart and was followed hours later by a shooting outside a bar in downtown Dayton early Sunday morning.
The president and first lady met with survivors, victims’ families, first responders and the mayor of both cities. They were confronted by protesters who claim Trump’s stance on illegal immigration has inflamed white supremacists and sowed racial division.
While Trump’s decision to visit both cities was praises by local supporters, it drew sharp criticism from political figures like Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke and others.
“Our hearts go out to all of the families and those that were tragically affected by these two shootings,” Villagers for Trump Communications Director Suzanne Zimmerman said Tuesday night before the club’s monthly rally at Eisenhower Recreation Center. “It’s just horrific.”
Zimmerman added that she’s happy the victims’ families and first responders will have the chance to meet the “real” Donald Trump, who she characterized as much different from the man many people believe him to be.
“It’s very important because he wears his heart on his sleeve,” she said. “He’s compassionate and a really very thoughtful man.”
Art Donnelly, who serves as a Villagers for Trump director and an assistant vice president with The Villages Homeowners Association, agreed.
“It’s important for the people that he goes and tries to bring some closure and some peace to those that were impacted negatively by the shootings,” the Village of Labelle resident said.
Villagers for Trump Founder and President David Gee said he’s expecting to hear more about the president’s rescheduled trip to Florida’s Friendliest Hometown soon.
“He still wants to make the Medicare announcement here,” Gee said. “The speculation is that he’s going to talk about what he can do to improve the processes and maybe even the benefits while paying for it through the elimination of waste and fraud. I don’t care what side of the aisle we’re on, I think we all would like to see that happen.”
Sid Bowdidge, a 2016 Trump campaign leader from New Hampshire who now serves as executive director of Villagers for Trump, said he wasn’t surprised to see how many area residents wanted to see the president at The Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center before Tuesday’s visit was postponed.
“Who doesn’t want to see the greatest president that this country has ever had?” asked Bowdidge, who lives in Spruce Creek. “The left-wing, mainstream media is portraying it that he’s going to make cuts in Medicare, so seniors are going to be hurt, and so forth. The reality is he’s taking so much out and most of it is waste, so we were looking forward to hearing that.”
John Temple, who lives in Wildwood and serves as Sumter County Republican Executive Committee chairman, said Trump is welcome in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown whenever he is able to reschedule the visit.
“What an honor for him to be able to come into our community,” said Temple, who also is the principal of Wildwood Elementary School. “Of all the places in the United States, he’s choosing our community. So, it’s very special that he’s coming to speak to The Villages and the surrounding community.”