President Trump holds 'Keep America Great' rally at Jersey Shore

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Wednesday, January 29, 2020
President Trump holds 'Keep America Great' rally at Jersey Shore
Jim Dolan has more on President Trump's rally in Wildwood, New Jersey.

WILDWOOD, New Jersey (WABC) -- President Donald Trump hosted a "Keep America Great" campaign rally at the Jersey Shore Tuesday night, and enthusiastic supporters began lining days in advance in anticipation.

On the day his legal team wrapped up its opening arguments on the Senate floor, Trump spoke to an enthusiastic audience in New Jersey in support of Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who recently switched from the Democratic Party to the GOP after breaking ranks over impeachment.

"While we are creating jobs and killing terrorists, the congressional Democrats are obsessed with demented hoaxes, crazy witch hunts and deranged partisan crusades. That's all they know how to do," Trump said.

The setting was atypical for Trump: a Jersey shore town where people camped out overnight on the beach to get a spot in line for the rally being held at a boardwalk convention center.

"The president of the United States is coming here to South Jersey to the 2nd District," said supporter Duke Reale, of Galloway, who was the first person in line after arriving at 2 p.m. Sunday. "It's wonderful."

"It's just history in the making for the generation ahead of me," said Selena Wollk, of Northeast Philadelphia. "And it's just a once in a lifetime event."

Trump officials said more than 175,000 tickets were requested for the event, which daughter-in-law Lara Trump said in a radio interview is a record for any President Trump rally anywhere.

WATCH: President Trump hosts rally in Wildwood, NJ

"New Jersey has been a blue state for a long time,"' said Ed Talmo, of Vernon. "I think just by the turnout hours and days before the event, it just shows his presence is really wanted in New Jersey."

The Wildwoods Convention Center holds 7,500 people, meaning tens of thousands of supporters won't be able to get inside. A giant television monitor will be set up outside to handle the overflow crowds.

"This is like being in Disneyland for Trump supporters," said Justin Mack, of Guttenberg. "This is like being Christmas, 5 years old. This is the best day of my life."

Aerial video from sister station WPVI-TV showed people gathering, some with tents and others with lawn chairs, as early as 6 a.m. Monday.

A counter protest was held in a parking lot a few blocks down the boardwalk from the convention center, but the protesters were vastly outnumbered by Trump supporters.

The rally took place in New Jersey's 2nd Congressional District, represented by now-Republican Rep.Van Drew after he switched from the Democratic Party to the GOP in December 2019 and pledged his "undying support" for President Trump.

He called Van Drew on stage, saying, "Jeff had the guts to defy the left-wing fanatics in his own party."

New Jersey Congressman Jeff Van Drew joins President Trump at Wildwood rally.

It's the off-season for beach towns like Wildwood, which is normally sleepy this time of year. But not Tuesday, as vendors sold food and merchandise in what was a huge boost of business in January.

"Being born and raised in Wildwood, it is just incredible experience to have a sitting president visit your town and bring this many people together," Pam Byrne Gentek said.


Wildwood police said traffic signals will be returned to their regular cycles from Monday morning through Wednesday morning. In the off-season, traffic signals blink in the Wildwoods.

Police said to expect rolling closures on the Garden State Parkway as the President's motorcade arrives and departs Tuesday night.

Police also announced that Wildwood Beach will be closed to both vehicles and pedestrians during the rally. Anyone walking or driving on the beach during this time will face questioning from federal authorities.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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