Trump rally jolts wintry Wildwood to life, throws support behind Van Drew

Andrew Kramer
January 28, 2020 - 7:24 pm
President Trump at a Wildwood rally.

Andrew Kramer/KYW Newsradio

WILDWOOD, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Winter typically leaves many parts of New Jersey's shore deserted, complete with blinking traffic lights and shuttered boardwalk shops, but President Donald Trump's rally for Rep. Jeff Van Drew jolted Wildwood to life Tuesday, with rally-goers flocking to the seaside resort.

Vendors propped pop-up tents along the boards and main roads near the oceanfront Wildwoods Convention Center, hawking all kinds of memorabilia, including the Trump campaign's iconic red "Make America Great Again'' hats and socks depicting the president with a Trump-like tuft of hair sprouting at calf height. Bars and restaurants overflowed with patrons wearing hats with the president's signature slogan. 

"In Wildwood, we are in the middle of winter. There's nobody in the middle of winter," Trump said during the rally. But "those streets are packed," he added.

Rally-goers, some arriving as early as the weekend, stood in a line that snaked through part of the town. The mood among supporters was one of camaraderie.

Up to 7,000 Trump supporters filed into the convention center. Trump said tens of thousands were outside, watching the rally on screens, but there is no official count. 

The crowd erupted when Trump took the stage a little later than expected and were vocal all throughout the rally, reacting to his every sentence with cheers or boos, depending on what he said.

Van Drew also got an ovation when he went on stage.

At the Wildwoods Convention Center, where President Trump is rallying.
Andrew Kramer/KYW Newsradio

Robert, who made it inside, said he came to Wildwood from Staten Island.

"Just wanna support President Trump. Hoping for another four years," he said. 

Protesters gathered a few blocks away from the convention center, and there was a large police presence both inside and outside the convention center. 

Trump's rally came the same day his attorneys wrapped up their impeachment defense in the Senate and as a show of support for Van Drew, who left the Democratic Party last month over his opposition to impeachment.

The 2nd District, which Van Drew represents, covers all or part of eight counties in southern New Jersey, and voted for Trump in 2016 after earlier backing Barack Obama. New Jersey is a reliably Democratic state in presidential elections. 

Van Drew said the president asked what he could do to help, and Van Drew told him he could hold a rally for him. 

The freshman congressman embraced Trump and lavished praise on him, calling the president "a man who kept his word to ensure that the eyes of the world are in South Jersey and all of us."

Democrats and their allies held a counter-rally just off the boardwalk, though they we're outnumbered by Trump backers who heckled them. 

Wildwood in Cape May County is known for its wide beaches, amusement-lined boardwalk and many colorful motels. Its trolley-like peoplemover, the tram car, wasn't running along the boardwalk as it typically does in summer, when the city's population swells from 90,000 to about 670,000.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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