After two consecutive weekends of mixing work and recreation at Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump returns Friday for a weekend that will also include some politics.
Trump is expected to arrive on Air Force One at Palm Beach International Airport in the afternoon, sometime after he makes a 12:30 p.m. visit to a Boeing plant in South Carolina.
Trump’s plans include a Saturday rally at 5 p.m. in Melbourne that’s officially a 2020 campaign event.
Trump promoted the rally during a wild news conference at the White House on Thursday.
“In fact, I’ll be in Melbourne, Florida, five o’clock on Saturday, and I heard - just heard that the crowds are massive that want to be there,” Trump said.
Expenses for the Melbourne trip, including brief Air Force One flights between West Palm Beach and Orlando-Melbourne International Airport, will be covered by Trump’s campaign rather than taxpayers.
“The campaign pays for the event and will pay for travel expenses in accordance with the law and the longstanding practice of presidents,” said White House Deputy Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham.
Trump filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Jan. 20 — his inauguration day — setting up a 2020 campaign, though he said it wasn’t a formal launch of his re-election bid. The document he filed, called an FEC Form 2, is required for a candidate who has collected at least $5,000 in contributions or made at least $5,000 in expenditures.
“While this does not constitute a formal announcement of my candidacy for the 2020 election, because I have reached the legal threshold for filing FEC Form 2, please accept this letter as my Form 2 for the 2020 election in order to ensure compliance with the Federal Election Campaign Act,” Trump’s Jan. 20 letter to the FEC said.
Former President Barack Obama, who took office in 2009, filed an FEC Form 2 for his 2012 campaign in April 2011.
Trump appeared to be contemplating a second term two weeks after his Nov. 8 election victory over Hillary Clinton.
On Nov. 22, as he conducted transition meetings in New York, Trump tweeted: “Great meetings will take place today at Trump Tower concerning the formation of the people who will run our government for the next 8 years.”
Palm Beach County GOP Chairman Michael Barnett said Trump needs to respond to opponents who are already working against him.
“The Democrats are campaigning 24/7, 365 days a year and we have to keep up with it,” said Barnett, who plans to attend the Melbourne rally.
Trump’s last appearance in Melbourne was Sept. 27 — one night after his first debate with Clinton, in which the Democrat seemed to rile Trump by blasting his criticism of the weight gain by a former Miss Universe. Even many of Trump’s supporters thought he did poorly in that debate, but Trump was upbeat.
“We are going to win Florida so big. This is a movement like they have never seen before. Never,” Trump said at the Melbourne rally. He went on to carry Florida and its 29 electoral votes.
Traffic changes for presidential visit
The flight restriction near Mar-a-Lago begins at 2:30 p.m. Friday. President Donald Trump is expected shortly after that. Expect Southern Boulevard from Palm Beach International Airport east to the ocean to be closed as the president’s motorcade makes its way to his estate. Traffic on Interstate 95 will also be briefly halted around that time.
Starting at 8 a.m. Friday through Monday evening, all forms of travel, including pedestrian travel, will be prohibited on South Ocean Boulevard in Palm Beach from the intersection of S. County Road to Southern Boulevard. The travel restrictions will also extend east to the ocean. Only residents living between South County and Woodbridge will be granted access to this restricted zone with proper identification.