WASHINGTON – As his legal team wrapped up its defense in his Senate impeachment trial, President Donald Trump returned to the campaign trail on Tuesday to repay a political favor and take his case for re-election into deep-blue New Jersey.
Thousands of people are expected to turn out for Trump’s campaign rally in Wildwood, a resort city on the southern Jersey coast.
While New Jersey is considered Democratic territory, the southern part of the state skews more conservative and is considered friendlier terrain for Republicans.
Besides giving Trump a platform to make his pitch for another four years in the White House, the event also will give him a chance to reward Rep. Jeff Van Drew, a freshman congressman from southern New Jersey.
Van Drew, who is expected to appear alongside Trump at the rally, was one of only two House Democrats to break ranks and vote against both articles of impeachment.
Van Drew later switched his party affiliation to the GOP, a move that Trump welcomed during a visit between the two in the Oval Office on Dec. 19, the day after the House’s historic vote. Trump, whose surrogates encouraged the congressman to join the Republicans, will return the favor by campaign for Van Drew’s re-election bid at Tuesday’s rally.
The line to get inside the Wildwoods Convention Center began forming even before daylight early Tuesday.
Nick Ruggiero of Staten Island took his place in line around 3 a.m. The 20-year-old drove two and a half hours with a friend to Wildwood and was able to secure a hotel room.
“We were in the room for about an hour and saw the line start to form and figured if we want a good spot we better get down there,” said Ruggiero, who was dressed in all red. “We’re a country divided right now between the Left and the Right, and we have to come and show support. A lot of people my age, in my generation, think very differently than I do and I’m just excited to show my support for the president.”
Jenn Korndoerfer, 41, of Waretown, N.J., stood deeper in line with her mother, fingers crossed they would make it inside the convention center.
“Just to be a part of the excitement and to support Donald Trump, it’s worth it,” Korndoerfer said. “The whole experience so far has been great, and we just want to show him that New Jersey loves him.”
Michael Collins covers the White House. Reach him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.
Contributing: Anthony V. Coppola of the Cherry Hill Courier-Post