The Villages Polo Fields was abuzz Friday morning as area residents started lining up and workers and volunteers scampered to get everything ready for President Donald Trump’s afternoon visit – his first scheduled appearance after Thursday night’s heated debate with Democratic challenger and former Vice President Joe Biden.
A long line of those hoping to see the president – many of whom weren’t wearing masks – had formed at the polo fields by mid-morning. Most of them were decked out in patriotic attire, with one even wearing a Superman costume and a wig similar to Trump’s signature hairdo. They didn’t seem to mind standing in line for several hours in the hot Florida sun for the chance to hear the president speak prior to the Nov. 3 General Election.
Meanwhile, sound checks were taking place on audio equipment and singer Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” could be heard blaring across the polo complex. Greenwood, whose has family ties to Leesburg, has been a regular visitor to The Villages over the past 20 years. He has signed books at Barnes & Noble in Lake Sumter Landing, performed at the Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center and sang at one of Trump’s inaugural events in January 2017 – all of which led to speculation Friday that he could make a surprise appearance at the polo fields to perform his signature song.
Trump is expected to arrive at the polo fields for his 4:30 p.m. “Make America Great Again Victory Rally” aboard presidential helicopter Marine One after most likely flying into Ocala International Airport, where he held a similar rally last week and raved about the size of the crowd and his health after testing positive for COVID-19.
One staff member who was working at the polo fields Friday morning said the president, who is known for show-biz-type entrances, wants to arrive by Marine One to “vibrate” the area, presumably to get the crowd fired up before he takes the stage.
As in past elections but possibly even more so this time around, Florida is seen as a must-win for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Friday’s rally will mark the second time the president has visited the community, having spoken during a Medicare-themed event at the Sharon last October. During that visit – he labeled his Democratic foes as “maniacs” to a rousing round of applause – the president also flew into the polo fields aboard Marine One before traveling to The Sharon in a motorcade.
Pence, who also is no stranger to The Villages, was at Brownwood on Oct. 10 for a rally that drew a large crowd of red-white-and-blue adorned fans. The vice president spoke in an area that was set up in the parking lot behind the Barnstorm Theater and told supporters: “The choice in this election is whether America will remain America.”
Trump is the second sitting president to visit Florida’s Friendliest Hometown. The first was President George W. Bush, who held a large re-election rally in Lake Sumter Landing in October 2004. Bush was a close friend of late Villages Developer H. Gary Morse, but unlike the former president, Trump wasn’t supported by The Villages brass when he first ran for office in 2016.
But the president has enjoyed the immense support of many area residents who are members of Villagers for Trump, a grassroots organization founded by Villager David Gee. The club’s membership has grown rapidly and they, along with members of The Villages chapter of Trump Team 2020 Florida, are planning to hold a golf cart rally on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Lake Sumter Landing in support of the president’s re-election bid.