THE VILLAGES, Fla. — Trailing in the national polls but charging into at least a tossup in Florida, President Donald Trump arrived in The Villages on Friday and made a full-out appeal to one of the nation’s largest retirement community’s votes.
To seniors in the crowd, Trump pledged to lower drug prices up to 80% through a recent executive order on so-called most-favored-nation price for prescription drugs or biological products.
As part of that, the president said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who spoke at Friday’s rally, would “go to Canada and buy drugs,” and presumably make them available to Florida residents at lower cost.
Trump also pledged to protect Social Security and Medicare and warned that Democratic challenger Joe Biden would cut both programs — while at the same time again labeling Biden a socialist.
The president went so far as to point supporters to a video — played on big screens at the site near the community’s polo grounds — that showed Sen. Bernie Sanders pressing Biden during the Democratic primaries on Biden’s past willingness to consider cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and veterans benefits.
“Under my leadership, nobody will touch your Medicare, and nobody will touch your Social Security,” Trump told the crowd. “By the way, that’s a devastating video.”
The visit marked Trump’s third appearance to the region in less than two weeks, following rallies in Sanford and Ocala. These visits come as the battle for Florida’s coveted 29 electoral votes tightens into what some polls and observers declare a tossup — with 11 days until the November 3 election.
The Trump and Biden camps have been especially hot for the I-4 corridor — a battleground region of a major battleground state. Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, visited Orlando this week, and reports say President Barack Obama will appear in the area next week on behalf of Biden, who served as Obama’s vice president.
On Friday at The Villages, the president turned on the charm.
“It’s an incredibly popular place,” Trump said. “I see it so much. I love it. It’s incredible. … Do you know the people that developed it? I know somebody did a good job.”
The president kept pouring it on.
“And I see you driving around on those beautiful golf carts,” he said. “I want to get a golf cart like that. … You have the best.”
Trump delivered a rambling speech in which he — as often is the case — quickly transitioned from one topic to another — anything to bring up his opponent.
“Look at those helicopters. How good are they?” Trump told supporters, referring to the aircraft that carried him and the ones that escorted him. “But if Biden wins, your border will be gone and your country will be gone, quite frankly.”
As always, Trump played to his base, invoking religion, pledging to support gun owners, and ridiculing political rivals, especially Biden, who appeared at an event in Delaware just hours earlier to present his coronavirus recovery plans.
Trump again brought up allegations that the former vice president has been involved in son Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings.
He slammed the media. He warned about immigrants. And he bashed China.
“We’re going to quickly end this pandemic, this horrible plague that came from China,” Trump said about the coronavirus. “We’re not going to forget what they did.”
About three weeks after he tested positive for COVID-19, Trump appeared without a mask, as he regularly does at his rallies — along with a vast majority of his supporters.
“I can’t close myself up,” the president said. “One day I got it and the first lady got it … We see a lot of people, and we’ve got a job to do, and we beat it.”
Trump kept turning his attention back to Florida and The Villages.
Because polls show Trump trailing nationally, he likely couldn’t lose Florida and win the presidency.
As of Friday, Floridians have already cast more than 4.7 million ballots, according to the U.S. Elections Project. Democrats have cast 1.6 million mail-in ballots compared to just over 1 million from Republicans, whereas Republicans have cast nearly 150,000 more in-person early ballots.
All told, the figure represents 34.3% of Florida's total 2016 turnout.
“Eleven days from now we’re going to win the state of Florida,” Trump said. “We’re going to win four more years.”
He said he’d cast an early vote in Florida on Saturday ahead of an intense home stretch to Election Day.
“So, we’re going on a tour for the next 10 days, and we’ll be doing two or three of these and then four or five of these, and then we’re going to end up doing six of these a day,” Trump said. “Is that a life? You think Sleepy Joe could do that? I don’t think he could.”