- The crowd that gathered to support Trump on the second anniversary of January 6 was much smaller than last year.
- Rallygoers said they saw Trump drive by, and he had cookies and MAGA hats sent over.
- The group doesn’t want DeSantis to run for president and they don’t have a favorite for Trump’s running mate.
PALM BEACH, FL — A small rally formed Friday on the bridge outside Mar-a-Lago as the MAGA faithful showed their support for former President Donald Trump and jailed January 6 rioters.
Roughly 40 people had gathered on the bridge as of 6 p.m.‚ forming a crowd that was far smaller compared to last year’s one-year anniversary rally, when roughly 300 people assembled down the road. By 7:30 p.m., all supporters had left the area.
The campaign did not respond to emails about how Trump spent the January 6 anniversary, but the windy weather was likely not suitable for golf.
Trump continues to face more legal trouble meanwhile. On Thursday, the longtime partner of Brian Sicknick, a Capitol police officer who died after being attacked on January 6, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court against Trump.
By Friday evening Trump had not directly addressed the January 6 anniversary though he declared on Truth Social that it was a “Big night for America” and called on governors to end mail-in voting.
Trump’s motorcade drove by around 5 p.m. Insider and a New York Post photographer who got a snap of Trump driving by last year didn’t spot the former president, but several supporters at the rally said they saw him give a thumbs up.
In 2022, the pro-Trump crowd rallied in a Publix parking lot down the road. This year, they were on a bridge that connects Palm Beach to West Palm Beach, where they could see Mar-a-Lago in the background.
It’s a space that isn’t conducive to large gatherings. It was far smaller than in 2022, and people aren’t allowed to park on the sides of the bridge because it can cause traffic jams. The parking lot where they gathered in 2023 had space for only 10 cars.
Last year, Trump had planned to hold a press conference on the anniversary of the January 6 riot, but abruptly reversed course. The pro-Trump rallygoers decided to move ahead with their planned gathering anyway.
This year Trump did not have any press events scheduled.
Organizers told Insider at the start of the 2023 rally that they didn’t know how many people to expect. Two other news organizations, including USA Today, were present aside from Insider.
Several people who attended the event said they communicated about the rallies through various email lists or Facebook groups. They didn’t promise big crowds and said they were enthusiastic either way.
Most who arrived were from Palm Beach or from towns nearby — no one Insider interviewed had traveled from as far as Miami, for instance.
Those who did attend didn’t seem bothered by this year’s smaller numbers, and many of them said they often attended such rallies.
“I’ve been standing on the street for seven years, flag waving, watching that man come and go,” Kathy Clark of Lantana, Florida, told Insider. “I’ve been to DC, I’ve been at the airport when he comes in. That’s my president.”
One van helped transport Trump supporters to the bridge from where they were waiting to join the crowd down the street. A sign in the dashboard of the shuttle read, “To Ground Zero (Mar-a-Lago).”
Once they arrived they held up pro-Trump signs as music blasted songs like “American Woman” and “YMCA” from large speakers sitting atop a Jeep that read: “Stomp my flag, I’ll stomp your ass.” Several cars that drove by honked in support of the rally.
Nearby, a flag waving in the wind read, “God, Guns, Trump.” Another read, “Trump Won.”
Trump continues to falsely say that there was widespread fraud during the 2020 election.
Many flags hanging from cars were anti-Biden. There were several “Let’s Go Brandon” flags and signs as well as the more direct and explicit “Fuck Biden.”
Back in Washington, DC, President Joe Biden held a ceremony at the White House to mark the second anniversary of the violent attack on the Capitol. The president awarded civilian honors to police and election workers who defeated the attempted insurrection.
Trump supporters gathered here Friday didn’t reflect on the violence that broke out on January 6 or on the future of Democracy. They also didn’t raise the Democratic-led House hearings by the select committee that aimed to show Trump incited the attack.
Instead, they decried the legal system, saying it had been unfair to people who were arrested on January 6. More than 950 people have been charged with offenses related to the attack.
A woman who goes by the name Crystal Clear said she came out Friday to “support the prisoners who are incarcerated.”
“I’m really concerned about the prisoners are being held,” Mary Kelley of Palm Beach, who called herself “MAGA Mary,” told Insider.
Four cars in Trump’s motorcade drove by. While Insider didn’t spot Trump, a few supporters said they’d seen him through the window.
Either way, it appears clear that Trump knew people had gathered. Within 20 minutes staff from Mar-a-Lago arrived with cookies, pastries, and red and white MAGA hats.
The crowd said they were thrilled, and one woman asked if she could keep the tray the cookies came on.
“He gave us a present! It’s from the president himself,” said Debbie Macchice of Boynton Beach, Florida, who’d helped organize the rally. Michael, who declined to share his last name, said this wasn’t a first for Trump. He’d previously sent hot dogs and water to a rally he attended on President’s Day, he said.
“Do you think Joe would do that?” another rally goer who declined to share his name asked Insider, referring to Biden.
Trump supporters that Insider interviewed on Friday were united in wanting Trump to win the presidency in 2024.
“I’m happy he’s running. I wish the campaign would get started,” Kelley of West Palm Beach said, adding that she thought it might be slow for now given that Republicans haven’t united on their next House speaker.
But they aren’t sure who the former president should pick as his running mate.
Two years ago, the mob that stormed the Capitol threatened to hang former Vice President Mike Pence after he refused to try to overturn the 2020 election that Biden won. Today, Pence is considering challenging his former boss for the 2024 GOP nomination.
A couple of Trump supporters said they might support Republican Kari Lake, who lost the gubernatorial election in Arizona, to be on the 2024 ticket with Trump.
Trump has said he wouldn’t choose Pence to run with him again, according to the book “The Divider: Trump in the White House.”
The crowd that gathered outside Mar-a-Lago on Friday was supportive of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who polls just behind Trump in many 2024 hypothetical polls.
The Republican governor even won Palm Beach this past election — a big victory in what has traditionally been a blue county.
Last year, when Insider asked Trump supporters who should run for president if Trump did not, nearly everyone said they would pick DeSantis.
But since then, Trump has made a White House run official. And on Friday Trump’s most loyal supporters told Insider that DeSantis should wait until 2028 to run for president.
Many of them said they wanted to ensure he’d stay governor of Florida for the next four years.
“We don’t want to lose him,” Clark said. “We’re not ready to lose him. The Americans and Florida need him to hold the fort.”
“If it’s between the two, Trump’s got it, but I don’t want to have to vote against DeSantis” she added. Clark had buttons all over her jean jacket supporting both Trump and DeSantis.
Clear, who also liked DeSantis, said that maybe Trump could become governor of Florida and DeSantis could become president. Still, she said she would choose Trump over DeSantis for president should the two face each other in a GOP primary.
Others agreed with Trump that it would be disloyal for DeSantis to challenge Trump.
“I’m keeping my eye on him,” Kelley said, making it clear she would not be pleased if DeSantis challenged Trump.
“He ought to keep his nose out of the presidential election,” said one 73-year-old Trump supporter who declined to share his name. “I don’t think anybody should run against Trump and anyone who interferes with that is part of the problem.”