SUNRISE, Fla. (CN) – “Everybody’s saying that’s really bullshit,” President Donald Trump declared Tuesday in front of thousands of supporters at a Florida rally as he discussed congressional impeachment proceedings against him.
A section of the crowd responded in kind, chanting “Adam Shit,” their moniker for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, one of the members of Congress leading the impeachment inquiry.
Billed as Trump’s homecoming to the Sunshine State, the event came on the heels of public testimony from U.S. diplomats relating to claims he withheld military aid from Ukraine to pressure the country into investigating political opponent Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
“First it was the Russia hoax. It was a failed overthrow attempt and the biggest fraud in the history of our country. And now the same maniacs are pushing the deranged impeachment,” Trump said in a speech that stretched for more than an hour.
Lines outside the BB&T Center in Sunrise were sprawling, and attendees resorted to parking their cars at a nearby mall on road medians and in street-side ditches.
The campaign event was held in Broward County, one of the most stalwart Democratic strongholds in the state. The Democratic party in recent elections has relied on contiguous metropolitan voting blocs in Broward and neighboring Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties to offset Republican votes in north Florida.
The crowd cheered as Trump touted his border wall plans and condemned what he says is a scourge of illegal immigration.
“[The Democrats] want open borders: Let people pour into our country no matter who they are,” he said.
“The threat is to every child whose school is under siege from these horrible gangs they would let in, like MS-13,” he said.
He went on to say: “I will never allow Democrats in Washington to take away your health care and give it to illegal immigrants.”
Trump supporter Rick Silva, one of many Latinos who attended the event, said he backs Trump in spite of the president’s generalizations of Central American immigrants as criminals.
“Those statements are just political. Trump is trying to move his base,” said Silva, who came to the U.S. from Nicaragua in the late 1980s.
Silva insisted Democrats use Latinos for political gain in the same way Trump does. In his view, Democrats in Congress were politicizing the plight of young Latinos when refusing to compromise on Trump’s proposal to give “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as juveniles, legal status in exchange for Trump’s border wall funding.
“Democrats were using us as a political chess piece,” Silva said.
Silva said he votes Republican because he views the party as opposing generous welfare benefits. “You can’t just give it away for free. I like to work for what I get,” he said.
The Broward County resident added that the Obama administration’s imposition of government fines for not obtaining health care led him away from supporting the Democratic party.
Protesters at the event were scarce in spite of the strong majority of Democratic voters in the county. One man stood at the entrance of the rally, with an anti-Trump sign linking the president’s upset in the 2016 election to Russian meddling.
Another Trump opponent maneuvered quietly through a tight crowd wearing a gay rights T-shirt.
Back inside the arena, some of the loudest cheers came from Trump’s supporters when he pointed to the back of the facility and dubbed reporters, “fake news,” claiming they would downplay his crowd turnout.
He went on to praise low unemployment rates and U.S. financial markets’ performance.
“The stock market just hit another all time high. … Everybody’s getting rich. And I’m working my ass off,” he told the crowd.
A Broward County teenager leaving the event with his friend said in an interview that if he was old enough, he would vote for Trump in part because the economy has improved under his presidency. While he was skeptical of Trump’s immigration policy and the notion that a border wall would stop illegal immigration, he said he would vote for Trump because Democrats have not put forward a viable candidate with a centrist viewpoint.
“Trump’s better than the Democrat field. If they would just pick some boring, moderate guy, maybe I’d vote with them,” the 16-year-old said.