TAMPA — With his blue frock coat, three-corner hat and faux leather boots, South Tampa resident Rogan O'Handley was going for a Founding Father vibe.

A few seats away sat two men dressed in NFL referee shirts and "CNN Fake News" hats.

And a St. Petersburg resident who would only give his name as Dan turned up in a full-length bodysuit with a brick-wall pattern complete with graffiti proclaiming, "Mexico will pay."

A St. Petersburg resident who would only give his name as Dan turned up in a full-length bodysuit with a brick-wall pattern complete with graffiti proclaiming, “Mexico will pay.” (Christopher O’Donnell | Times)
A St. Petersburg resident who would only give his name as Dan turned up in a full-length bodysuit with a brick-wall pattern complete with graffiti proclaiming, “Mexico will pay.” (Christopher O’Donnell | Times)

The Trump circus was back in town.

Two years after a presidential campaign unlike any other took Donald Trump to the White House, a rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds on Tuesday showed his base's enthusiasm isn't wavering— certainly not in Tampa Bay.

Trump's visit: The day in photos

Trump walked onstage to God Bless the USA by Lee Greenwood. He was greeted by raucous cheers and a sea of arms waving "Make America Great" signs and taking cellphone video.

An estimated 10,000 Trump supporters made light of the July heat and afternoon rain to cram into the Fairgrounds Expo Hall for a rally that had all the hallmarks of an election event.

Families with children, young men and elderly couples decked out in American flag gear, or Trump-branded apparel — or both — broke into chants of "USA" and "Build the wall." They cheered every applause line and booed every mention of Democrats.

Supporters of President Donald Trump fill the stands during a rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa on Tuesday. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)
Supporters of President Donald Trump fill the stands during a rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa on Tuesday. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)

As Trump began his speech, the line outside still stretched hundreds of yards. Many listened from an overflow area or lined the wire fence where they could at least hear the speech.

In his Founding Father outfit, O'Handley said he gave up his job as an attorney about a year ago to start an Instagram account lauding Trump. He now makes a living selling advertisements to his more than 300,000 followers.

"It's a pivotal moment for our country," said O'Handley, 30. "President Trump is returning power to the American people."

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The day began early for supporters who wanted to make sure they got a good seat. Some even camped out the night before.

The sun beat down hard on those who waited. The lucky ones stood beneath umbrellas and tents. Others rushed over to the merchandise tent to buy $25 MAGA hats. Some kicked their feet up on folding chairs and sipped soft drinks.

Wesley Chapel neighbors David Sumner, 54, and A.J. Walker, 35, endured the lunchtime sun to get a good spot in line. Sumner, who is a landscaper, said the heat doesn't bother him.

"I work in it every day," he said. "And it's worth it because we're out here standing in the heat for democracy.''

By 2 p.m., when fairground officials opened the ticket window, rain and thunder was rolling in and the parking lot was crowded with thousands of cars. The crowd bolted to the front of the line, some holding hands to keep from being separated.

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Huddled beneath an umbrella was Shawn Float and son Arden Taylor, 17, from Clearwater.

"I wanted to come today because the media doesn't show how much of us there really are," said Float, principal at Washburn Academy. She and several of her co-workers took a vacation day to see the president. "They also don't show just how peaceful and loving we all are," she said.

Out on U.S. 301, Terri Johnson wrung out a sodden "Make America Great Again" T-shirt at the merchandise stall she set up outside a gas station across from the fairgrounds.

She got into merchandise sales during the 2016 Presidential Election campaign on the advice of a friend. Now, the Georgia resident follows Trump around the country from rally to rally. She prints the "Trump 2020 Make America Great Again" and "Straight out of Trump Tower" slogans onto blank T-shirts she sells for $20.

Trump said people watched his rally on TVs outside the Fairgrounds. They didn't.

Johnson never got to vote in the 2016 General Election because she was working. She's not sure she supports the president but said she might if he delivers on his promises. An African-American, she said she's not uncomfortable selling T-shirts with messages supporting a president that critics have accused of stirring up racial intolerance.

"We've all said some crazy stuff," she said. "A lot of people don't say what they're thinking. At least he does. At least we know what we're getting."

Supporters of President Donald Trump fill the stands during a rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa on Tuesday. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)
Supporters of President Donald Trump fill the stands during a rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa on Tuesday. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)

The only spot in the fairgrounds not enamored with Trump was the First Amendment Zone, a protest area set up just yards from the entrance arch where about 300 Trump protesters gathered.

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The noise of a man with a megaphone reading Bible verses competed with Bob Welsh's boom box blasting out The Beatles' Back in the USSR, which he had programmed to run on repeat as a protest about Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

Adding to the noise, passing Trump supporters yelled comments like "liberals suck."

From left, Mimi Pike and Diane Rodriguez stand for a portrait in protest to President Donald Trump before his arrival at Tampa Bay Technical High School in Tampa on Tuesday. (BRONTE WITTPENN | Times)
From left, Mimi Pike and Diane Rodriguez stand for a portrait in protest to President Donald Trump before his arrival at Tampa Bay Technical High School in Tampa on Tuesday. (BRONTE WITTPENN | Times)

A South Miami resident who drove to the rally from his Wauchula tree farm, Welsh held a sign with a picture of Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin that said "Putin won it."

"I haven't liked him since he started his TV career," Welsh said of the president. "I knew it was going to be a long four years, but the comedy was going to be great."

Live coverage: Look back at our coverage of President Trump's visit to Tampa

Retired restaurant cook Elizabeth Dodd held a sign she made herself that described the president as "Sexist, callous, fascist, racist, extra braggadocious."

"This is the first time I have ever protested and I'm 70," she said.

Times staff writers Langston Taylor and Kirby Wilson contributed to this report.