When Donald Trump believes he’s winning, he stays on script.
Looks like he feels good about Florida.
The Trump who marshaled his political army in downtown Miami on Wednesday rattled off a list of touchstone issues in Florida politics: the Herbert Hoover Dike in Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades, Homestead Air Reserve Base. He talked about repealing Obamacare, appointing conservatives to the U.S. Supreme Court and lowering taxes. For the folks watching on TV, he mentioned other key battlegrounds like North Carolina and Arizona.
And, like any well-versed political candidate, he was scared to get too far ahead of himself.
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“The polls are all saying we’re going to win Florida,” he said. “Don’t believe it! Don’t believe it. Get out there and vote. Pretend we’re slightly behind.”
“We don’t want to blow this!” he warned.
A pair of Florida polls released Wednesday, by CNN/ORC and Quinnipiac University, showed Hillary Clinton ahead by 2 or 1 percentage points, respectively — both inside-the-error-margin leads that effectively show the race in the state tied. A Real Clear Politics polling average shows Trump in front by 0.7 percentage points, though that includes several Republican-leaning robopolls.
Trump appeared on stage after noon at Bayfront Park, where the amphitheater was filled at its 2,600-person capacity despite the absence of any shade. Earlier, he raised more than $1 million at a fundraiser held at his Trump National Doral golf resort, an organizer said. Clinton was also in South Florida: She dropped in unannounced at a Lauderhill early-voting site.
At the rally, Trump repeatedly hit her over the scandal surrounding a renewed FBI investigation into the emails she kept on a private server while she was secretary of state.
That’s exactly what his fans wanted to hear.
“I’m hoping that he delivers a focused — focused — solid, closing argument,” Jaime Andres Rodriguez, 30, who sat front row, center stage, said before the rally. “I’m hoping he doesn’t deviate from the main messages — the Obamacare premiums and the FBI scandal — and just kind of plays it safe.
“I’m not here as a supporter to be entertained,” said Rodriguez, a commercial real-estate broker who emigrated from Colombia. “I feel the momentum is completely shifting to his side. For me, as a supporter, to leave here with a smile would be to see him be boring and disciplined.”
Wayne Ferrell, the owner of a Deerfield Beach architecture firm, said if the election were held today, Clinton “probably would still win.”
“Things are just moving in the right direction,” Ferrell said of Trump. “He just has to stay …”
“Focused,” interrupted his wife, Karina Ferrell, who emigrated to the U.S. from Poland. “And explain what his plan is.”
Trump might have kept to his prepared remarks, but he still fed off the crowd.
When they yelled “Build the wall,” Trump cracked that immigrants are illegally rushing across the borders to get in before he wins.
“I see all these signs: Cubans for Trump. Love Cubans,” Trump said. “We’re going to fight very, very hard for the Cubans, and we’re going to fight very, very hard for the Hispanics because they have not been properly taken care of.
“What’s happened with the Hispanic population in our country is not right,” he continued. “The inner cities in our country, the African-American community, the Hispanic community, is very, very sad. We’re going to take care of it. The crime is horrible. The education is terrible. And you can’t get a job.”
When Trump mentioned Clinton wanting “a 550 percent increase in Syrian refugees into our country,” people booed.
“That would mean generations of terrorism and extremism spreading into your schools,” Trump said. “We will suspend the Syrian refugee program, and we will keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of U.S. communities.”
As he looked out over the crowd, Trump — clad in a white “Make America Great Again” campaign hat — called the crowd “massive.”
“There’s something happening,” he said. Then, alluding to reporters, he said, “They’re not reporting it!”
His supporters took that as a cue to chant, “CNN sucks!” Hecklers accused reporters throughout Trump’s 38-minute speech of “selling out.”
Earlier, the crowd had offered choruses of “Lock her up!” — referring to Hillary Clinton — and “Drain the swamp!” — referring to Washington D.C.
Twice, Republican National Committee Co-Chairwoman Sharon Day, who spoke before Trump, tried to silence the talk of putting Clinton in jail.
“Again, let’s just defeat her,” Day said.
The crowd kept going. Twice.