- By George Bennett Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
President Donald Trump attended the Rev. Billy Graham’s funeral in North Carolina on Friday, then arrived in Palm Beach for some face time with donors at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
The visit — Trump’s 14th trip to Palm Beach as president — will be brief. He’s scheduled to return to Washington Saturday afternoon to attend the Gridiron Club Dinner.
Trump and first lady Melania Trump stepped off Air Force One at Palm Beach International Airport at 3:18 p.m. and headed straight to Mar-a-Lago, their motorcade passing dozens of supporters and a handful of protesters along Southern Boulevard.
Also on Friday’s flight from Charlotte, N.C., to PBIA was former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was a key adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign and owns a condo in Palm Beach.
Trump was scheduled to host a 6:30 p.m. “roundtable with Republican National Committee supporters” at Mar-a-Lago, then speak at a 7:30 p.m. dinner for the RNC’s Spring Donor Retreat.
Both events were closed to the press.
About 200 people were expected at the dinner. Trump spoke at the annual GOP donor gathering last year at the Four Seasons Resort, about 5 miles south of Mar-a-Lago.
Trump is also expected to raise money for his 2020 re-election campaign Saturday at a lunch at Mar-a-Lago before heading back to Washington in the afternoon.
The daytime fundraiser was originally billed as an “Evening Reception with Donald J. Trump” before Trump confirmed his attendance at the annual dinner of the Gridiron Club, the oldest of journalism organizations in Washington.
Tickets for the Mar-a-Lago fundraiser range from $2,700 to a VIP package that includes a meal and photo with Trump for those who bundle $50,000 in contributions.
As Trump headed from the airport to Mar-a-Lago on Friday afternoon, more than 80 people stood in front of the Publix shopping center on Southern Boulevard to watch the motorcade, some waving Trump signs and others raising cellphones to capture images of the procession.
Farther east, a man held a “Russian Stooge” sign and a woman held a sign that said “NRA Trump Kills Our Kids.” A man and woman stood with signs that said “Shame” and “Repent End Of Trump World Is Near.”
Just before the bridge from West Palm Beach to Palm Beach, about 35 Trump supporters gathered. Some had pre-printed Trump campaign signs and flags while others displayed hand-lettered signs that said “In Trump We Trust,” “Protect Our 2nd Amendment” and “Swamp Is Deep Be Very Afraid.”
Mary Smith, a Trump supporter from Hypoluxo, said she considered politics “boring” until Trump came along.
She recalled the 2015 Republican debate in which Megyn Kelly, then with Fox News, noted that Trump had “called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.’”
When Trump responded “Only Rosie O’Donnell,” Smith said, “I laughed. That’s when I knew it was going to be fun this time.”