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Trump, Biden supporters make views known at Fort Myers rally

By Nathan Mayberg - Editor | Oct 16, 2020

President Donald Trump pledged to have a vaccine for the coronavirus — which he labeled the “China virus” — by the end of the year, at an invitation-only event at the Luminary Hotel’s Caloosa Sound Convention Center in downtown Fort Myers Friday.

Trump said he plans to distribute a free vaccine before the end of the year, and that seniors “will be the first in line” for the vaccine.

The president said he has an agreement with Walgreens and CVS to deliver the vaccine, which is still being developed, to nursing homes.

“I will not rest until we’ve eradicated this plague from our country and our lives and our world,” he said.

Trump said “we will overcome” the coronavirus. “We are prevailing.”

Supporters of Trump and former Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. alike lined the streets in downtown Fort Myers Friday well ahead of the private event.

Signs, T-shirts and hats were prevalent among the supporters of each, with a scattering of arguments that turned up-close and personal at times.

Inside, the speech got personal as well, with the president going abashedly bare knuckle in his criticism of the both Biden and the Democratic platform.

In addition, to his message for seniors, Trump ripped into his opponent and accused him of promoting a socialist agenda. Trump said that Biden and Democrats would ruin Medicare by promoting “big, fat, ugly socialized medicine.” Trump warned that the country was in danger of turning into Venezuela.

Trump accused Biden of being part of an “organized crime family” and attacked his son Robert Hunter Biden for alleged business dealings overseas with support from the former vice president. The former vice president has denied being involved as Trump has alleged and a New York Post report over Hunter Biden’s business dealings which Trump cited has been challenged over its integrity. In their debate last month, Biden defended his family from attacks by Trump and noted his late son Beau Biden was an Army veteran who served during the Iraq War and earned the Bronze Star.

Outside, some supporters of each candidate shared why they had turned out.

Larry Roser, an Army veteran living in Fort Myers said he was a former Democrat and Independent who switched to the Republican Party. He said he was supporting Trump “to keep this country conservative.”

Roser said he felt that Trump “stands tall for the veterans.” Roser said he was supporting Trump and the Republican Party because “I believe in the constitution. I want to keep the constitution alive and all the freedoms we have.”

Jency Emo, a Fort Myers fitness instructor supporting Biden, engaged in a spirited debate with Phil Hourican of Gateway, who supports Trump.

Their face-to-face argument over Trump was lighter than a few other loud and personal arguments on a day where most were not wearing masks, an act that itself proved to be a bone of contention.

Emo said she was “repulsed” by Trump and that he was elected in the first place.

“After four years of chaos, our voices need to be heard,” Emo said.

Hourican said he thinks Trump “deserves four more years.” He said Trump was doing well by getting the country “out of these useless wars overseas.”

Trump, Hourican said, “has had to fight all the false accusations.” He credited Trump for getting rid of the Affordable Health Care Act mandate.

A supporter of former Vice President Joe Biden Jr. (at left) ended up in a heated argument with a supporter of President Donald Trump (at right) during a rally in downtown Fort Myers ahead of an appearance by Trump at a private event at the Luminary Hotel.

Some Biden supporters drove by with signs in support of their candidate of choice.

Judith Marie Tucci, of Fort Myers, said she opposed Trump for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tucci said she supported Biden because “I support intelligent presidents.”

Ron Tabb, an Oregon native who lives in Fort Myers and supports Biden, said he was at the street rally “to show support for a candidate that has empathy and shows compassion.”

Trump had staunch supporters as well.

Marion Dondero, a Realtor from Fort Myers and originally from Boston, said she was there in support of Trump. Holding an American flag, Dondero said she was excited to be with the rest of Trump’s supporters and said she already voted for him.

“We do not need to get a socialist running our country. We want to retain our freedoms.”

Dondero said Trump “delivers what he promises.”

‘We have to vote for a president that will give us our freedoms. Once we’ve lost our freedom, we’ve lost it all,” she added.

The president was greeted with a mostly warm welcome.

As Trump’s motorcade arrived at the Luminary Hotel, supporters chanted “USA.”

During the rally, a pro-Trump supporter blared songs like Lee Greenwood’s “God bless the USA,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA,” Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son” and Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take it” though the singers and writers of the latter three songs (Springsteen, John Fogerty and Dee Snider) are both vocal opponents of Trump. Over the weekend, it was widely reported that Fogerty issued a cease and desist order to stop Trump from playing “Fortunate Son” at campaign events.

After it became clear that the crowd would not get to see the president, who was entering the hotel off a street that was blocked off by police barricades, supporters chanted “We want Trump” and “We love Trump.”