Trump rallies Republican base with historic visitPosted: Updated:
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made his message clear to voters in Southwest Florida on Monday.
Scroll down to see Trump's full speech at Germain Arena.
Thousands converged on Germain Arena in Estero, lining up early in the morning to see Trump. Just how many people were there hasn't been confirmed by the Trump campaign, but Germain was expected to allow in about 8,100 people. Trump said while on stage that there were thousands more outside.
Those who got through the doors were glad they waited.
"This election is something I thought was part of my history. It's unlike anything I've ever been a part of," said Ruby Labounty.
Nadia Hoots said it was "absolutely worth it. It even made me like him more."
Many who attended liked what they heard.
"He really incited a lot of hope which, it's gone right now with the administration we have," Hoots said.
"I believe in Trump. I think he has something new to offer and I'm ready for a change," Labounty said.
One Fort Myers man even left with a special souvenir: Trump autographed his sign.
"I put my hand out there and I smiled, and he looked at me and took it and grabbed it and signed it," said Jay Seidl.
Parents pull kids from school
Some supporters brought their children, saying it was more important to let them see Trump than go to school for the day.
Hillary Clinton has had an ad out for months warning parents against letting their kids listen to Trump, but parents at the rally Monday said that's exactly what they want, even if his message is sometimes controversial.
Joy Dunwoodie brought her daughter. She said she asked her daughter's teacher for all the assignments she missed in Monday's class and considered the rally a field trip.
"They can read history in the books, they can see what's going on in the news but when can we bring them to an event like this where they can experience it," Dunwoodie said.
She's not worried about children listening to Trump's speeches. She said we need more of it.
"We are tired of hearing a politician's polished speech... I'm known to talk like Trump sometimes, so I don't have a problem with it."
Dunwoodie's daughter said she sees only the positive.
"I just saw all the Trump supporters, how they were chanting and being really excited about it," said Lainey Amon.
Lisa Heely said her 12-year-old son's school had an excused absence list she signed so the whole family could see Trump.
"I just want to have a president that will unite the country; I just want my son to see that."
Heely said although Clinton calls herself the advocate for children, Heely believes the future is better in Trump's hands.
"I believe he will save the future of these kids," she said.
Parents said they had no fear when it came to violence at the rally, although we have seen some between protestors at past events. They said they were encouraged not to engage or touch anyone, and security was very tight.
Political importance of Trump’s visit
Several political figures were in attendance Monday afternoon for Donald Trump’s rally. Some spoke while others chose to observe from the stands.
Among those who didn’t speak was Sheriff Mike Scott, who spoke at Sarah Palin’s visit four years ago and drew both praise and criticism.
“I felt like today, rather than be a part of the ceremonial aspect of it,” Scott said. “I would stick with my primary job, the security factor.”
However, the Sheriff made it clear he’s supporting Trump.
“I see it as a very simple equation,” said Scott. “Our country needs to change direction. We need for someone to kick us in the pants and get us back on focus. I think Mr. Trump is the only one who is willing and able to do that.”
While most assume Trump doesn’t need to campaign in Southwest Florida, political consultant Dennis Pearlman suggested Trump’s visit was more important to winning the state come November.
“Florida is that pivotal state that I believe will make the difference,” Pearlman said. “You’ve got to solidify the base and you need Florida to be victorious.”
To do that, Trump needs to expand his base as the area has 200,000 independent voters. And attract more voters like Keith Perry from Bonita Springs.
“I agree with everything he says,” said Perry. “I wish he would tone down a few things. Generally he’s right with what he says.”
Leaving on a jet plane
Dozens packed into a little parking lot just to get a glimpse of Donald Trump’s plane as it landed.
Some were regular plane spotters and amateurs alike while some came out for politics and others just wanted to see history for themselves.
David Edwards, of Lee County, waited for hours just to catch a glimpse of the .757 plane arriving before 10 a.m. with his girlfriend.
“I’m part of history,” Edwards said, “same as her. It’s her first time.”
As the crowd grew, so did the anxiety of the wait. But finally, the sight got close enough to read the iconic letters on the side of the plane. Watching Trump unload from the plane and jump into the motorcade proved to be better for some other than sitting inside Germain Arena.
“We drove by there, but way too many people,” said spectator Dillon Bolebruch. “Didn’t even give it a shot.”
Trump didn’t hang around the area. After his speech, he headed back to RSW to load onto the plane and head to New York.
The chants were loud and the energy high. Thousands waited to get in the doors of Germain Arena to catch a glimpse of Donald Trump. Those on the other side of the Trump fence were hard to find at Monday's rally.
"There could be some 'unsupporters,'” said Naples resident Paul Taylor. “But all I see are Trump supporters.”
Outside the grounds of Germain Arena stood a couple of stragglers who know they're in the minority.
"That means there are thousands of people who will walk by and see my sign today," protester Sean Declat said.
Declat and Mark Halley rushed at the chance to show thousands why they don't stand with Trump and hoped to convince those who walked by.
"I think the things that Donald Trump has said have been disastrous and just horrible in so many ways," Halley said. "I think millions of people agree with that."
Their message, not received well by people of every age, but that doesn't phase these two.
"I've been waiting since he announced his candidacy to come protest him,” Declat said. “Just like his supporters have been waiting to hear him speak."
Other protestors had a harder time spreading their message.
"They had said this is private property and Hillary supporters are not welcome," said Hillary Clinton supporter Sharon Bamberg.
Bamberg and her friend Sandy were told to leave the privately owned property of Germain Arena. However, that didn't squash their spirit as they left this crowd of Trump supporters with a strong message.
"Donald trump is definitely the wrong person to occupy the Oval Office," Bamberg said. "He's dangerous and impulsive."
Rally security calms safety concerns
With thousands of people gathering at Germain Arena to attend the rally, it was all hands on deck for law enforcement.
Scores of deputies and Secret Service agents spent the day patrolling Germain Arena to protect rally-goers and Trump.
While anyone would expect security to be tight, fears were heightened after this weekend’s bombings in New York City and New Jersey. Some might have considered skipping the event. Ticket holders said the visible law enforcement helped eased their concerns.
“I thought it would be okay for me and my kid to come,” said Alex Galante, who looked forward to bringing her six-year-old daughter. “I did re-think about coming here.”
NBC2 cameras captured Lee County Deputies patrolling from the air and ground, flying the chopper and monitoring parking lots on bicycles and ATVs. K-9 units also completed regular sweeps around the arena before the crowds were allowed inside.
“I feel very safe,” said Naples resident Diana Frey. “There’s security everywhere. I feel protected.”
Once the doors opened, rally-goers were subjected to ‘airport-style security’ - passing through metal detectors while some received random pat downs. Certain items like umbrellas were banned.
Forced to wait outside in the heat, some people grew upset because only one entry gate was being used. But others didn’t mind waiting as long as it guaranteed their safety.
“Anytime you have something of this magnitude,” Fort Myers resident Anthony Ramos said, “you gotta have top notch security.”
For the most part, things moved pretty smoothly Monday. With all the uniformed officers, many people said they felt Germain Arena was the safest place to be.