Trump Rally Draws Tens of Thousands in Blue State New Jersey
Trump Rally Draws Tens of Thousands in Blue State New Jersey

By Janice Hisle

WILDWOOD, N.J.—Former President Donald Trump’s unusual speech on the beach on May 11 attracted tens of thousands of fans—a crowd of historic proportions for the Republican candidate in a state considered reliably Democrat.

“Welcome to the largest political rally in the history of the state of New Jersey. … and we’re not going away!” Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.) told rallygoers.

His remarks came shortly before President Trump took the stage and unleashed sharpened attacks against his Democrat opponent, President Joe Biden, particularly regarding his handling of the Israel–Hamas war and related protests on U.S. college campuses.

Mr. Van Drew, a local folk hero for his Democrat-turned-Republican status, is leading the charge to help President Trump and other Republicans win the Garden State in this year’s general election. In 2020, then-candidate Joe Biden won New Jersey by 16 percentage points. But President Trump won the conservative Wildwood area—Mr. Van Drew’s district—by 25 points.

Overhead photographs showed that the May 11 crowd filled much of a quarter-mile span between Mariner’s Pier and the Adventure Pier; attendance estimates varied widely, from 40,000 to 100,000.

In any case, the Wildwood rally was the best-attended event thus far in the 2024 election cycle, a Trump campaign official told The Epoch Times. A month ago, President Trump drew about 42,000 people to a fairground in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania.

The Wildwood crowd’s size added an exclamation point to declarations that New Jersey could do a political flip-flop from Democrat blue to Republican red.

“This is ‘red’ turf down here. I mean, New Jersey is not a guaranteed ‘blue’ state,” attendee Edward X. Young, 64, of Brick, New Jersey, told The Epoch Times.

The rally’s turnout also represented a show of support for President Trump while he stands trial on criminal charges in New York—one of four cases that he alleges were brought against him as “election interference” with the blessing of the Biden administration, a charge vehemently denied by the Democrats.

Israel

During his 90-minute speech, President Trump made only a few references to the New York case. Instead, he focused largely on his concerns that President Biden’s economic and immigration policies are detrimental to the nation.

Supporters cheer as former President and 2024 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally in Wildwood, N.J., on May 11, 2024. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

President Trump’s most pointed criticisms involved his opponent’s Israel-related policies.

During a CNN interview on May 8, President Biden announced that he would provide no offensive weapons to Israel if that country advances into population centers in the Hamas-terrorist stronghold of Rafah.

He cited concerns about civilians being killed by the heavy bombs that the United States has provided to Israel.

President Biden’s decision was criticized by Republicans and some Democrats but welcomed by progressives and some moderate Democrats.

“It was shocking to hear it,” President Trump said, especially because the terrorists have continued to hold Americans hostage since Hamas’s attack on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023.

President Trump called President Biden’s threat to withhold weapons from Israel “one of the worst betrayals of an American ally in the history of our country.”

“I support Israel’s right to win its war on terror. … I don’t know if that’s good or bad politically. I don’t care. You’ve got to do what’s right,” he said.

The Biden campaign did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

Understands Humor

Despite the serious nature of many points that President Trump made, some rallygoers said they appreciated the former president’s use of humor and sarcasm.

He praised the crowd for their “love, intelligence, and common sense.”

Rallygoer Nicole Ghisolfi, 43, of Somerset, New Jersey, said she attended President Trump’s 2020 rally at the convention center, which drew thousands inside and out.

“It was the most patriotic, loving gathering of people, like-minded, that I’ve ever been to,” Ms. Ghisolfi told The Epoch Times. “And after having such a positive experience there, I had to come back here.”

Steve Mikulski, deputy mayor of Wildwood, told The Epoch Times that he, too, attended President Trump’s rally four years ago.

“This time, he brought a lot of humor, laughter, jokes; it was a very good rally,” Mr. Mikulski said.

He said police from Wildwood and surrounding areas were well-prepared to handle the large crowd of Trump supporters, and he was aware that some protesters showed up, too. But everyone remained peaceful, as far as he knows.

Mr. Mikulski said rallygoers told him that “they absolutely loved it” and they agreed with President Trump’s contentions that the nation and world were in better shape while he was in office.

Hot Dogs or Hamburgers?

The former president also spotlighted the persistent inflation faced by Americans over the past few years, which he laid at the feet of the Biden administration.

Noting that he had just eaten a hot dog, President Trump said the price of those has gone up by 22 percent, while the cost of hamburgers has increased by 37 percent.

“That’s why I had the hot dog,” he said, joking that he couldn’t afford the pricier hamburger.

A native of the neighboring state of New York, President Trump told the audience that he has spent a lot of time in the south New Jersey shore area, and he feels an affinity for the people there. “We are the same,” he said, explaining why he felt comfortable going off-script for long stretches of his speech.

The program also featured remarks by North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a potential vice president pick for President Trump.

Mr. Burgum flew to the venue with President Trump aboard his private aircraft known as Trump Force One.

He gave a short but rousing speech, telling rallygoers that President Trump needs their help to lasso “undecided and independent” voters in New Jersey. Mr. Burgum suggested they could do so by contrasting the former president’s track record with the incumbent’s.

“If you’ve got friends that like inflation, regulation, crime, wars, sham political trials, and open borders, if you want more of that, you can get four more years with Joe Biden,” he said. “But if you want to make America affordable again, if you want to make America safe again, if you want to make America strong again … let’s send President Trump back to the White House and make America great again!”

The former president fueled further speculation about Mr. Burgum’s future role when he spoke about him in glowing terms—and dropped an intriguing hint.

“He made his money in technology, but he probably knows more about energy than anybody I know,” President Trump said. “So get ready for something, okay? Just get ready, but Doug Burgum has been incredible, and the country is lucky to have him.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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