Lots of enthusiasm, not many masks, as supporters cheered for President Trump's re-election bid.
Updated 10:05 a.m. Oct. 19
From inside a barn filled with 200 VIPs at the 2A Ranch, just north of the Volusia-Flagler county line, Pastor Jearlyn Dennie's prayer was broadcast outdoors to the crowd that was slowly making its way through security for a chance to see Donald Trump Jr., son of the president, on Oct. 17.
"Father, we give you thanks for making America great," said Dennie, who is also chairwoman of the Flagler County Republican Executive Committee. Her voicing rising in enthusiasm, she called Trump the "appointed one" and thanked God for healing Trump of COVID-19. She continued: "You made Trump our protector of liberties. Send an army of angels to strengthen him and give him peace. ... We lift up this agenda and pray that it lines up with your agenda. ... No weapon formed against Donald J. Trump will prosper. Bring a wave of salvation as we open our hearts."
She closed her prayer, and U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz echoed her in praising Trump.
"He is on fire," Waltz said. "He truly has done more in four years than Biden's done in 47. ... The only responsible thing to do is give this man four more years."
A distinguished military veteran, Waltz is the first Green Beret to serve in Congress. He said to the crowd that, before Trump, "the military didn't have the equipment or training that we needed." But thanks to Trump, he said, the military now has everything it needs.
The barn had a lot of character; it was filled Trump memorabilia, including Trump bobbleheads, Trump Troll dolls, a Trump pinata and a series of paintings with Trump posing on famous movie posters.
The grand finale was the appearance of Trump Jr., looking fresh, energetic, stylish. He stood on the stage in the barn wearing a lavender button-down shirt and jeans and beamed an infectious smile.
To laughter and cheers, he praised his father and roasted Joe Biden, joking that Biden could never draw a crowd as large as even 200 people. "Joe couldn't even make it out of the basement," Trump Jr. said. "But he doesn't have to leave the basement; the media will campaign for him."
Trump Jr., who said his social media posts usually draw 100,000 or more likes, was also flagged by Twitter for spreading misinformation; he criticized the company for censorship. He called the criticisms against Trump's children "fake news." Mainstream journalists are not true journalists, he said, "they're activists."
Then Trump Jr. claimed that he had not expected such a crowd to form (although the event had been promoted on social media and a 50-foot screen had been prepared outside the barn). He suggested that he should make an appearance outdoors, so the barn emptied and joined the crowd, to great applause.
The VIPs had been packed together on folding chairs in the barn, most of the time without masks, including Ormond Beach City Commissioners Troy Kent and Rob Littleton, as well as Flagler Sheriff Rick Staly, Flagler County Commissioners Joe Mullins and Dave Sullivan, Flagler Republican State Committeewoman Sharon Demers and Palm Coast mayor candidate Alan Lowe.
Some of the VIPs put masks on when they left the barn to join the rest of the 2,000 in front of the screen. Barriers were established to corral the crowd directly in front of the screen, presumably to accentuate the turnout. Trump Jr. then continued extolling the Republican party platform and roasting Biden. The enthusiasm was tremendous, as supporters reached for Trump hats that were tossed into the crowd.
Early voting begins Oct. 19 in Volusia and Flagler counties.