WILDWOOD, NJ (AP) – Winter usually leaves many parts of New Jersey’s coast deserted, with flashing traffic lights and shuttered boardwalks, but President Donald Trump’s rally for Rep. Jeff Van Drew brought Wildwood to life on Tuesday to the seaside resort.
The vendors set up pop-up tents on the boards and main streets near the convention center by the sea and crouched with all kinds of memorabilia, from red hats titled “Make America Great Again” to socks with the president and a Trump- similar tufts of calf height. In the bars and restaurants, guests poured hats that were themed by the president.
“In Wildwood we are in the middle of winter. No one is there in the middle of winter, ”Trump said during the rally. But “these streets are full,” he added.
Rally-goers, some of whom had already arrived at the weekend, stood in a row that meandered through part of the city. The mood among the supporters was comradely.
Denise Hayes came from Flemington, New Jersey early Tuesday. She said she was independent until 2016 when Trump persuaded her to become a Republican. But she said that she usually doesn’t have politics with people because Trump’s critics sometimes don’t tolerate his politics.
“It is really good to see all the support,” she said from a bench and sat down while another supporter kept her place in line. “I’m just looking forward to all the energy in the room.”
Other Trump supporters have sought to appeal to all fence-sitting independent or unfortunate Democrats.
Fred Conteh, an engineer from Morganville, New Jersey, emigrated from Sierra Leone, West Africa, to the United States in 2000. Conteh said he was a Democrat and exhorted voters to take the economy into account when they go to the ballot box in November. He was wearing a Trump scarf and a pin that reads “CNN sucks.”
“I am a registered Democrat, but I believe in common sense politics, so I support Donald J. Trump,” he said.
Trump’s rally at the 7,000-plus convention center took place the same day his lawyers wrapped up their impeachment in the Senate and as a sign of support for Van Drew, who had left the Democratic Party last month for refusing impeachment.
The 2nd district, which Van Drew represents, covers all or part of eight counties in southern New Jersey and voted for Trump in 2016 after previously supporting Barack Obama. New Jersey is a reliably democratic state in presidential elections.
Van Drew, whom Trump put on the podium, said the president asked what he could do to help, and Van Drew told him he could hold a rally for him.
The new congressman hugged Trump and praised him. He called the president “a man who kept his word to ensure that the eyes of the world are in South Jersey and all of us”.
Democrats and their allies held a rally right on the boardwalk, although we outnumber the Trump supporters who harassed them.
Wildwood in Cape May County is known for its wide beaches, amusement-lined promenades and the many colorful motels. The famous trolley-like people-mover, the tram, did not drive on the promenade like in summer, when the city’s population rose from 90,000 to about 670,000.