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Don Jr. and his one-man show come to Tampa as President Trump recovers

Donald Trump Jr. stumped in Tampa on Thursday, delivering a one-man performance in the parking lot of a local towing company.
Donald Trump Jr., the son of President Donald Trump, addresses a crowd at a rally held Thursday, Oct. 8 at Stepp's Towing Service in Tampa.
Donald Trump Jr., the son of President Donald Trump, addresses a crowd at a rally held Thursday, Oct. 8 at Stepp's Towing Service in Tampa. [ STEVE CONTORNO | Steve Contorno ]
Published Oct. 9, 2020
Updated Oct. 9, 2020

TAMPA — There are some things even President Donald Trump hasn’t said.

But his eldest son will say them for him.

Donald Trump Jr. stumped in Tampa on Thursday, delivering a one-man performance that transpired in the parking lot of a local towing company. His 30 minutes of stand-up comedy was one extended troll of the left, in terms usually reserved for Twitter takes and 4chan boards. The backdrop resembled the staging of a backyard rock concert, complete with a 38-foot Blue Lives Matter flag hung from a crane.

Pacing the stage with a microphone, he trashed cancel culture, Vice President Joe Biden’s family, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s hair style, the media, gender identity, experts and epidemiologists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He closed with a long non-sequitur about former President Bill Clinton’s quarantine experience, suggesting, “He’s just waiting for Hillary to suicide him.”

The crowd loved every minute of it.

“No one triggers the left like Don Jr.,” said Kimberly Guilfoyle, the former Fox News personality and Trump Jr.’s girlfriend.

With the president sidelined by the coronavirus, his family and close allies are taking his place on the campaign trail. Donald Trump Jr.'s three-stop tour of the Sunshine State on Thursday was the first of what will likely be an all-out blitz of Florida in the coming days. Vice President Mike Pence will visit Central Florida on Saturday.

Related: Trump eyes Florida rally on Saturday, leaving quarantine behind

Trump Jr. did not mention his father’s illness. It came up only once during the program.

“What do you think about the debate commission wanting the next debate to be virtual?” former Florida Attorney Pam Bondi asked the crowd, which responded with boos. “The president is doing great and he wants him (Biden) on stage next to him.”

Otherwise, the coronavirus didn’t seem to exist at the event, which was held outdoors at Stepp’s Towing Service in Tampa. It was only brought up to explain how, in his view, the left has weaponized it against Americans.

“You shouldn’t be getting a ticket to go to church," he said.

The scene was reminiscent of the White House Rose Garden ceremony late last month that’s now directly linked to a dozen positive coronavirus cases. Rows of chairs, side by side. People hugging and taking maskless selfies. Conversations, leaned in and yelled over speakers blaring R.E.M. and Michael Jackson.

Earlier in the day, Trump Jr. stopped in Panama City Beach where supporters packed into a tight room to hear Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Guilfoyle.

Brittany Stoll a Sarasota nurse who worked with coronavirus patients, brought her own mask but said she wasn’t bothered by the setup.

“COVID doesn’t come knocking at your door,” Stoll said. “So if you feel uncomfortable with it, just stay home.”

Trump’s children aren’t exactly strangers to Tampa Bay.

In Tampa last month, Ivanka Trump, the first daughter, visited Ybor City’s La Segunda where she learned to bake Cuban bread and held a more intimate conversation at the Columbia Restaurant with a few dozen invited guests.

Related: Is Trump still contagious? Experts say it’s impossible to know

Thursday’s Tampa event included all the sights and sounds of a typical Trump rally down to the campaign’s music mix, but smaller. About 500 people showed up, and the younger Trump came with one purpose: to rouse the base 26 days before Nov. 3.

Trump supporters didn’t seem to mind turning out for a proxy rather than the real thing.

“I like (Don Jr.) because he speaks out more," Adrian Marks, 62. ”He’s more polished than President Trump is sometimes."

Some are already playing the parlor game of guessing which offspring will run for president next.

“I think Ivanka is more seasoned and polished, presidential. I think she’s climbing," said Jonny Riches of Tarpon Springs. “Don spends a lot of time on Twitter engaging with critics and stuff."

Tampa Bay Times elections coverage

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