Supporters of President Trump lined up outside of the Orlando, Florida, arena where Mr. Trump will be officially launching his presidential campaign with a rally Tuesday night. The crowd began to assemble more than 24 hours before the doors to the arena opened.
By Monday evening, there were already several hundred people lined up for the president’s Orlando re-election announcement. One man at the head of the line told CBS News he arrived at 2 a.m. on Monday morning, a day and a half before the doors open at 3 p.m. on Tuesday. Another man told CBS News: “[Trump] gave up his life for us, we can give up two days for him.”
Many of those waiting had camping tents, event tents, and lawn chairs pitched along two long blocks, and most planned to stay through the night. Some have hotel rooms nearby they planned not to use for fear of losing their spot in line, or took turns switching between the hotel and their spot in line with friends.
Many of the Trump supporters in line said the most pressing issues for them were the economy, immigration and security. Asked about their thoughts on the Democratic candidates, several said they do not want the U.S. to become a socialist country.
One woman told CBS News: “Socialism is not my thing. I don’t want to be a socialist country and that’s one of the biggest things with Trump. He says we’ll never be a socialist country and I hope that we never will be.” Another woman said, “I don’t think socialism is the best thing for America. I don’t see why people want socialism.”
No one expressed concern about Mr. Trump’s willingness to accept opposition research from foreign nations, but several mentioned Hillary Clinton and Christopher Steele, the former British operative who compiled the infamous Trump dossier.
Meanwhile, opponents of Mr. Trump’s reelection announcement on Tuesday are launching their protests at a nearby gay bar where a mariachi band and a drag queen will perform in what they say is a juxtaposition of the president’s policies.
Organizers of the “Win With Love Rally” said Mr. Trump’s announcement in Orlando Tuesday night is an affront to a city with a large Puerto Rican population and a visible gay community. Orlando is at the center of the Interstate 4 corridor, stretching from Tampa to Daytona Beach, which is considered one of the most politically unpredictable parts of the nation’s largest swing state.
Opponents in Orlando blame the Republican president for holding up disaster aid to Puerto Rico over a feud with Democratic leaders on the island. The Trump administration also has moved to revoke newly won health care protections for transgender people, restrict their presence in the military, and withdraw federal guidance that trans students should be able to use bathrooms of their choice.
The president’s campaign kickoff comes a week after the third anniversary of the massacre of 49 people at the gay Pulse club, a turning point for Orlando community leaders in embracing ideas of diversity and tolerance, said Ida Eskamani, a protest organizer.
“Orlando is such a bastion of hope and love and solidarity of marginalized people since Pulse and we have embraced that identity of who we are as a community,” Eskamani said. “We want to show the country that Trump’s brand of politics doesn’t work along the I-4 corridor. We are ready to win with love.”
The chairman of the local Republican Party said Mr. Trump is fighting for all Americans.
“For them to say Donald Trump doesn’t like gay people is wrong. For them to say Donald Trump doesn’t like Hispanics is wrong,” said Charles Hart, chairman of the Orange County Republican Executive Committee.
Organizers of the Trump announcement on Tuesday were hosting an all-day festival – dubbed “45 Fest” – outside the Amway Center where the president will speak at night.
Others planned to be in Orlando to highlight Mr. Trump’s track record. An attorney who said he represented dozens of former illegal workers at Trump properties planned a news conference with seven of the workers, along with union members to show “Trump’s hypocrisy toward immigrants and his economic policies that hurt all workers,” according to a statement.
Protest organizers also were promising an appearance by theat the bar after they raised money to bring it from South Florida. However, the blimp will stay at the bar, located about three blocks from the arena, due to presidential airspace restrictions, Eskamani said.
Sara Cook contributed to this report