What to Know
- President Donald Trump spoke to thousands of supporters at his campaign rally in Wildwood, New Jersey.
- Trump took the stage at the Wildwoods Convention Center around 7:30 p.m. and spoke for about an hour.
- During the speech, Trump slammed Democrats and their role in the ongoing impeachment trial. He also shored up support for Democrat-turned-Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew.
President Donald Trump slammed Democrats and their role in the ongoing impeachment trial while speaking to a crowd of thousands during his Keep America Great rally in Wildwood, New Jersey.
Trump took the stage at the Wildwoods Convention Center around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and spoke for about an hour to a raucous crowd of over 7,000 people.
The crowd repeatedly chanted "USA" and "Thank you Trump" as the president addressed several topics, including the economy, jobs and trade.
On the same day his legal team wrapped up its opening arguments in the impeachment trial on the Senate floor, Trump criticized Democrats he claimed were engaged in "demented hoaxes."
"While we are creating jobs and killing terrorists, the congressional Democrats are obsessed with demented hoaxes, crazy witch hunts and deranged partisan crusades," Trump said as the crowd booed. "That's all they know how to do. The do-nothing Democrats."
Trump highlighted the economy during much of his speech, noting that 7 million jobs have been created since his election. He also continued to boast of the U.S. drone strike in Baghdad that killed Iran’s most powerful general, Qassem Soleimani, on Jan. 3. He cited the strike while attacking his political rivals with language that was incendiary even for a Trump rally.
“We stopped him cold, yet Washington Democrats like crazy Bernie Sanders and nervous Nancy Pelosi, they opposed our actions to save American lives. They opposed it,” Trump asserted to a roar of boos.
Pelosi and other Democrats have questioned the strategy behind Trump’s order to kill Iran’s general, which was made without prior approval from Congress. They pointed to potential consequences of heightened tensions that could endanger U.S. troops and lead to war with Iran.
Remaining largely disciplined, Trump avoided the specifics of the impeachment trial and did not mention the name of his former national security adviser John Bolton, whom Democrats want to call as a witness in the case. But Trump mused at the rally about competing in New Jersey this election -- he lost by double-digit percentage points in 2016 — and polled the crowd about whether he should hold a rally at the state’s famed Meadowland Sports Complex over the summer.
Trump also introduced New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who recently switched from the Democratic Party to the GOP after breaking ranks over impeachment.
"We are privileged to be joined tonight by a courageous leader who left the Democratic party because he has had enough of their extremism, enough of their socialism and enough of their vile hoaxes and scams," Trump said. "He's had enough."
Before the speech, an estimated 12,500 people waited in line outside the Wildwoods Convention Center Tuesday afternoon, hoping to be able to see President Trump.
Those who couldn't get inside the venue watched the rally on big screen televisions outside. James Rosen of Galloway Township, New Jersey, told NBC10 he had a plan in case he didn't get in.
“I have a friend wandering around here,” Rosen said. “We’ll hang outside. I brought plenty to eat. I’ve got a chair.”
The line of people, tents and blankets spread down sidewalks and into nearby Fox Park. The scene resembled a rock concert with Trump supporters chanting, cheering and cooking food on the grill throughout the day. The energy was palpable despite some of the supporters waiting on line since Sunday.
“Look at me. I’m doing great,” Vicki Rozanski of North Wildwood, said. “The enthusiasm, it’s just overwhelming. That just keeps you going.”
Martha Good of Maurice River Township, New Jersey, was in good spirits Tuesday despite having slept outside overnight.
“This is history being made and it’s a great opportunity to be here,” Good said. “Sleeping bags and a blanket. That’s it. On the blacktop. Horrible but it was so worth it.”
Along with the thousands of supporters, anti-Trump protesters also gathered near the convention center on Wednesday.
The entire Trump rally gave a business boost to the Wildwoods during the normally slow winter season. Food trucks and vendors sold items to the people in line. Portable toilets were set up and traffic restrictions were put in place.