Panama City Beach, Florida was one of Donald Trump’s first campaign stops in 2015, so it’s only fitting that he returned to the same spot almost four years later as he ramps up his reelection campaign.
Even though he’s criss-crossed the state frequently in the meantime, holding a rally nearly once per month, on average, neither the enthusiasm of his supporters or the turnout at his rallies seems to have diminished with familiarity. Anybody in Florida with even the faintest desire to see a Trump rally has almost certainly had an opportunity to attend one of the 39 he’s held in the state since 2015 — perhaps several — yet people keep flocking in staggering numbers to hear the president speak.
At least 12,500 people showed up for his latest rally Wednesday night, filling the Aaron Berrant Park Amphitheater to capacity, with thousands more in overflow crowds outside the venue — a situation that has long since become routine at Trump rallies.
That sort of crowd was impressive when Donald Trump was a mold-shattering outsider running against the corrupt political establishment, but it’s downright astounding now, at the low point of the presidential election cycle.
While the president’s compelling and entertaining rhetorical style certainly contributes to the ardor he inspires among his supporters, his record of following through on the bold promises he made on the campaign trail is what really keeps people coming back for more.
During the rally, for instance, President Trump made it clear that he is fighting for Tyndall Air Force Base and all of Bay County as we continue to rebuild after Hurricane Michael, pledging $448 million in federal aid. Based on past experience, we know we can count on him to deliver.
When President Trump promised to bring us back to 3 percent GDP growth after we spent eight years languishing under Obama’s pathetic “new normal” of 2 percent or less, liberals scoffed that it couldn’t be done without a “magic wand.”
Not only have we surpassed that mark already, hitting 3.2 percent growth in the first quarter of this year, but we’ve also discovered that we didn’t have to settle for the stubbornly-high levels of unemployment that persisted throughout the Obama years, either.
“Our growth number came in for the first quarter, which is almost always the lowest quarter of the year historically, [at] 3.2 percent, crushing expectations,” Trump boasted during the rally, pointing out that his administration has created nearly 6 million new jobs and reduced the unemployment rate to its lowest level since 1969.
The first time the president visited Panama City Beach, in June 2015, the unemployment rate in Florida was a disappointing 5.5 percent, and Bay County’s unemployment rate was only slightly lower, at 5.4 percent. Today, after just over two years of President Trump’s pro-growth economic policies, the state unemployment rate has fallen to 3.5 percent — close to full employment — and Bay County has a mere 4.3 percent unemployment rate. That tracks closely with the national unemployment numbers, which just hit a 50-year low of 3.6 percent.
The ongoing economic renaissance came about due to a variety of factors — the elimination of wasteful regulations for business, and counter-tariffs that protect American workers from the exploitative practices of our trade partners, come prominently to mind — but the president’s crowning economic achievement remains the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which has both rejuvenated the economy and put massive amounts of money back in the hands of individual taxpayers.
In Florida, the TCJA saved the average taxpayer a little more than $1,000 on their federal tax bill last year, a decrease in their tax payments of nearly 12 percent. Over the course of a decade, the typical Floridian can expect to benefit from an extra $18,468 in take-home pay thanks to President Trump’s tax cuts, and for a family of four, that figure goes up to $33,311.
Those are huge numbers that represent meaningful quality of life improvements for hard working low- and middle-income Americans, so it makes sense that people are still coming out in droves to see the magician himself who wielded his “magic wand” to lift this country out of the economic doldrums so quickly.
President Trump’s return to Panama City Beach was an excellent way to highlight how much progress we’ve made as a country since the heady days of the 2016 campaign. Judging from the turnout, people are hearing that message loud and clear, and they’re even more eager to support Donald Trump for president in 2020.
State Rep. Jay Trumbull, R-Panama City, is a member of the Florida House of Representatives, representing District 6 which includes parts of Bay County.