President Trump rallies support in Tampa
TAMPA (FOX 13) - President Trump held a campaign-style rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa Tuesday - his first political event in the area since taking office.
The rally was held after the president, along with the U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy Devos, the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, Florida Governor Rick Scott, and others visited Tampa Bay Technical High School.
Speaking at the school, President Trump said he believes technical careers may be a better option for many students, adding there are many high-paying jobs that can lead to life-long careers.
The president also signed the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act during his visit to the school. The act aims to increase the quality of technical education.
Meanwhile, supporters filled the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Center for Tuesday night's rally.
Tuesday night's rally was the 36th the president has held in the state.
Wading into Florida Republican politics and a competitive primary, President Trump delivered a hearty endorsement for Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis.
Trump praised DeSantis as "a tough, brilliant cookie" and predicted a win in his race against Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the state's Aug. 28 Republican primary.
Trump also railed against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who is being challenged by Trump ally Gov. Rick Scott in a high-profile Senate race.
Trump, who has maintained a steady presence in the state, said the only time he sees Nelson is "five months before every election."
"After a while, you forget who's the senator," Trump said, adding that he wants to make sure Scott "wins and wins big."
Scott didn't join Trump at the rally but appeared with him at Tampa Bay Technical High School.
Trump's arrival in Florida underscored the larger-than-life presence he has wielded in Republican primaries ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, capable of influencing the outcomes of primaries with a single tweet.
With sky-high approval ratings among Republican voters, the president has injected himself into several recent GOP primaries, helping candidates in Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina with endorsements that have helped set the stage for the fall elections.
Florida represented a crucial triumph for Trump in the 2016 presidential election, and the president has maintained a steady presence in the state, returning frequently to his winter home in Palm Beach.
You can expect more visits in the future, according to Jim Waurishuk, the Hillsborough County GOP chairman.
"Part of my goal since becoming chairman is, let's try to get the president here as much as we can between now and 2020."
Despite great enthusiasm among the president's supporters, protestors made their voices heard outside the rally.
Monday night, they gathered in Tampa to make signs with messages like, "Lock him up" and "Vote them out." Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Jeff Greene plans to join the protestors as well.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.