Trump gets warm welcome on first visit to Palm Beach as president


A day that began with some harsh tweets in Washington ended in the warm glow of supporters for President Donald Trump as he made his first trip as commander-in-chief to his Mar-a-Lago estate on Friday.

Trump started his 15th day as president with a pre-sunrise Twitter storm that included a warning to Iran and criticism of the media and the “professional anarchists, thugs and paid protesters” who have demonstrated against him. But he appeared relaxed and cheerful as he exited Air Force One a little after 4:30 p.m. in the Florida sunshine.

First Lady Melania Trump, who had arrived in a smaller jet a few minutes earlier, greeted Trump with a kiss after he descended the staircase from Air Force One. The couple then kept their 31-vehicle motorcade idling as they walked over to a group of more than 50 supporters on the tarmac.

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Donald Trump in Palm Beach

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Trump gave a thumbs-up, clapped his hands and shouted something as he approached the group. One supporter yelled “Welcome home!” to the president, who is a New York resident but has maintained a high profile in Palm Beach since the 1980s. Trump then spent several minutes shaking hands and signing autographs.

“I told you I’d win that election,” Trump said at one point.

“You like what we’re doing, right?…It’s about time, right?” Trump said as he worked his way along a metal barricade, according to a video clip one supporter shared with The Palm Beach Post.

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» PHOTOS: President Trump arrives in Palm Beach

“You like the tweeting, right?” Trump said to another person. “It’s the only way you get the real truth.”

Melania Trump wore a red split-sleeve dress and red flats and the president wore a bright red tie as part of the “National Wear Red Day” awareness campaign. Trump signed a proclamation Thursday declaring February American Heart Month, and he implored “all Americans to wear red this Friday, February 3, 2017, to observe National Wear Red Day.”

The first couple then got into a black Chevy SUV for the short drive along Southern Boulevard to Mar-a-Lago, which Trump has called “the winter White House.”

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White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and senior adviser Steve Bannon were among those making the trip to Florida with Trump.

While he’s in Palm Beach today, Trump is scheduled to have phone conversations with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, then attend the International Red Cross Ball at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump’s official Sunday schedule includes phone calls with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English. He is slated to watch the Super Bowl at the Trump International Golf Club just west of West Palm Beach.

Trump is expected to leave Palm Beach on Monday morning to travel to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, according to Tampa TV station ABC Action News.

Anti-Trump protests are planned for today in West Palm Beach. But there were no demonstrators on Bingham Island just west of Mar-a-Lago as about a dozen people gathered to catch a glimpse of the motorcade.

“We came out here because it’s a chance to see the president up close,’’ said Larry Ragusa, who was joined by his wife, Victoria, and another couple, Tony and Candi Giambatisa, as they all aimed smartphone cameras at the motorcade.

Ragusa said he was disappointed that no protesters showed up.

“I wanted to have some fun with them,’’ he said with a laugh.

Larry Daniels of West Palm Beach said he didn’t vote for Trump but he was hanging out with the supporters because he couldn’t get to the beach – A1A was blocked just south of Mar-a-Lago.

“So I turned around and came here,’’ Daniels said. “I’m not a supporter of his party. I don’t agree with his philosophies. But it’s cool to see the spectacle and it’s amazing how much our country invests in getting the president from one point to another.’’

Trump’s first visit as president brings a higher level of security than accompanied his two visits to Mar-a-Lago when he was president-elect.

In Palm Beach, town officials sent an alert to residents that South Ocean Boulevard will be closed near Mar-a-Lago throughout Trump’s visit.

The Secret Service ordered the road to close, effective at 2 p.m. Friday. It will remain closed until the president leaves on Monday. All bicycle, vehicle and pedestrian travel is temporarily banned on South Ocean from South County Road in the north to Southern Boulevard.

The only people allowed past the road blocks will be residents who live within the zone who have “proper identification,” the town said.

RELATED:

Trump expected to draw more tourists to Palm Beach County

Security beefs up now that Mar-a-Lago’s resident is President Trump

Want to see Air Force One this weekend? You can’t miss it.

Post staff writers Kristina Webb and Joe Capozzi and White House pool reports contributed to this story.

TRUMP IN PALM BEACH

Get details of President Trump’s visit through the weekend from Post politics writer George Bennett @gbennettpost and The Post at PalmBeachPost.com

Post staff writers Kristina Webb and Joe Capozzi and White House pool reports contributed to this story.



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