Best News Feature-- "Trump's Not-Quite-In-Alabama Campaign Rally"

Dec 11, 2017

Artificial snow falls in the Pensacola Bay Center at the end of President Donald Trump's rally.
Credit Alex AuBuchon / APR

President Donald Trump held a campaign-style rally in Pensacola as part of a weekend trip across the Gulf Coast – less than 20 miles from the Alabama state line and just four days before the hotly contested Senate election between Doug Jones and Roy Moore. Some political experts believed the event would be a de facto campaign stop for Roy Moore. Others said Trump was there to thank the Pensacola area for their strong support during last year’s election. Turns out, it was a little of both.

Thousands of supporters braved freezing rain and near-freezing temperatures in Pensacola Friday night to cheer on President Donald Trump.

Attendees came from all over. I spoke to several from the Pensacola area as well as a few who drove a long way to attend, like Roy Seitz, who drove four hours from Louisiana to show his support for the President.

“I’m here to cheer him on and support everything he says. I pretty much am on board with everything he’s promising the American public.”

Vendors outside the Pensacola Bay Center offered an assortment of Trump memorabilia.
Credit Alex AuBuchon / APR

Maurice Symonette traveled all the way from Miami to turn out for Trump. He led a group of supporters who wore T-shirts and held signs reading ‘Blacks for Trump 2020’.

“It’s just a group of brothers and sisters that are supporting Trump, that’s all it is. Because he’s the right man for the job. He’s taking taxes down and getting rid of all these stupid regulations that keep me from doing business, so that’s why we’re with him.”

President Trump even gave the group a shout-out during his speech:

“I love these guys, look at these guys. ‘Blacks for Trump.’ I love you. By the way, now that you bring it up, black home ownership just hit the highest level it’s ever been in the history of our country. Congratulations.”

That’s not true, by the way. Peak African-American home ownership was in the middle of 2004, at 49.7%, according to the Census Bureau. It’s currently hovering around 42%.

One thing on most of the rallygoers’ minds was how the President would address Alabama’s Senate election. Richard Foss of nearby Cantonment, Fla., mentioned a story that had broken earlier that day.

“Really, I’m kind of interested to see if he’s going to say something about the news that came out today about that accuser of Roy Moore actually writing more stuff in her yearbook.”

President Trump didn’t disappoint.

“So did you see what happened today? You know, the yearbook? Did you see that? There was a little mistake made. She started writing things in the yearbook. Ahh, what are we going to do? Gloria Allred – any time you see her, you know something’s going wrong.”

Plenty of Friday night’s attendees will be eligible to vote in tomorrow’s election.

“How many people here are from the great state of Alabama? [cheers]”

I spoke with two of those people, Gwen McCrory and Mark Glass of Theodore, Alabama, and asked them who they’ll be voting for. Ms. McCrory didn’t waste any time.

“Moore. Everything he’s done, in his past, I hope he brings that with him. He’s a good guy.”

Glass was a little more hesitant.

“Ahh… Republican. Just, always. I have to. It’s obligated, at this point.”

Mark Glass (L) and Gina McCrory (R) of Theodore, Ala.
Credit Alex AuBuchon / APR

For his part, President Trump didn’t have much to say about Roy Moore as a candidate. Not the case with his opponent.

“We can’t afford to have a liberal Democrat who is completely controlled by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. We can’t do it. Can’t do it. His name is Jones, and he’s their total puppet, and everybody knows it. He will never, ever vote for us.”

Trump did stress the importance of Moore’s vote in the Senate.

“We need someone in that Senate seat who will vote for our Make America Great Again agenda.”

And he did end up offering a full endorsement.

“So get out and vote for Roy Moore. Do it.”

The special election for U.S. Senate between Doug Jones and Roy Moore is tomorrow. Polls are open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. To find your polling place, head to

Thousands of Trump supporters stand at attention for the National Anthem.
Credit Alex AuBuchon / APR