On Monday afternoon, several thousand people crowded into the Tampa Convention Center to hear Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speak to his supporters. The crowd maxed out the 2,000-person capacity of the ballroom where Trump was to appear, and reports of the event show that many people were turned away at the door. The event was Trump’s second appearance in the Tampa area ahead of the Florida presidential primary. In February, he held a rally at the University of South Florida Sun Dome.
Trump was introduced to the crowd at the Tampa Convention Center by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Her presence was notably as she had canceled earlier appearances for the day due to her husband, Todd Palin, suffering severe injuries in a snowmobiling accident on Sunday night. Trump was also joined by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, his former rival for the presidency.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi endorsed Donald Trump at the event. During his remarks, Trump praised her, calling her “the most popular person in Florida by far” in a subtle jab at his rival for the presidency, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. The relationship between Bondi and Trump appears very different today than it did in 2013. That year, things became tense after Bondi’s office announced they were reviewing a lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman against Trump over Trump University allegedly scamming students. That lawsuit has yet to be resolved.
There were some tense moments at Tampa’s convention center, as about six protesters were removed from the ballroom where Trump was speaking. Several protesters shouted expletives and argued with Trump supporters before being escorted out of the building. Other protesters marched outside the event, traveling down Franklin Street while chanting and waving signs. Protesting took place down the street from the site of the failed Trump Tower Tampa project on the Hillsborough River.
Polls have Trump comfortably ahead of Rubio in Florida and Trump is predicting victory in the state. It is widely expected that Rubio will drop out of the race if he loses to Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in his home state.