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In Jacksonville, Trump Promises Stronger Navy, More Factory Jobs, Fewer Refugees

t-shirts, signs and bobble heads
Jessica Palombo
Trump gear is for sale outside the Jacksonville rally.

President Barack Obama rallied at the University of North Florida for Democrat Hillary Clinton. Obama’s visit happened the same day Republican Donald Trump also rallied in Jacksonville.

At the Equestrian Center on the city’s Westside, several current and former Northeast Florida Republican elected officials warmed up the crowd before Trump spoke, including state Sen. Aaron Bean and former Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford, who’s running for Congress in District 4.

Former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, who is African-American, told the crowd Clinton lied to Bernie Sanders supporters to win their votes, “and now she’s lying to black folks to win theirs.”

Carroll also said Trump is the candidate more friendly to women, saying Clinton’s foundation pays men more than it pays women. She also said Clinton “supports” disgraced Congressman Anthony Wiener, who is accused of sending sexual messages to a teenage girl.

Florida Attorney General  Pam Bondi also echoed the female-friendly line before launching into a speech about Trump’s desire to close the borders and fight terrorism.

“Guess who’s not scared of ISIS?” Bondi said. “Donald Trump!”

When Trump took the stage, he said, “We are going to win the great state of Florida, and we are going to win back the White House.”

man in prison stripes and CLinton mask
Credit Jessica Palombo / WJCT News
Jacksonville resident Spencer Charles Stevens (left) arrives at the Trump rally dressed as a "inmate Hillary Clinton."

He then spent about 10 minutes hammering Clinton over the questionable ethics of her private email server while Secretary of State. He also accused the press of protecting Hillary and said, “The system is rigged, and it’s very, very unfair to the FBI because they’re trying to do their job and they’re getting roadblocked.”

The crowd went wild when Trump pledged to spend more on the military.

“We will build the 350-ship Navy that our country needs and desires and must have. That means brand new, state-of-the-art ships in places like Mayport here in Jacksonville,” Trump said.

He also got huge applause for saying the U.S. should stop accepting Syrian refugees, and the Southern border should be secured with a wall.

“Mexico will pay for the wall,” he said. “They might not know it yet, but they’re paying for the wall.”

He also pledged, if elected, to:

  • Tax American companies 35 percent the price of their products when they move manufacturing to foreign countries, in an attempt to bring back manufacturing jobs
  • Cut the corporate tax from 35 percent to 15 percent
  • Repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with “something much better and much cheaper”
  • Immediately deport all undocumented immigrants and make it a mandatory five-year prison sentence if they’re caught reentering the country, and a 10-year sentence for the second attempt

Of course, the president can’t do any of these things without congressional approval.
With about 5 million ballots already cast in Florida, the state is on track to break a record for total turnout during a presidential election. Much of that is being driven by first-time voters and those who haven’t voted in the past two presidential elections. With four days of voting remaining, the question is whether more of those voters are being motivated to vote for Trump or Clinton.

Contact Jessica Palombo at 904-358-6315, or on Twitter at @JessicaPubRadio.


Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP