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Trump Blasts Obamacare At Tallahassee Rally

James Clarke Ash

A combative and upbeat Donald Trump promised thousands of supporters at a Tallahassee rally that he would repeal the Affordable Care Act, and continued to take aim at what he calls a corrupt media and rigged system.

The unlikely nominee chose an unlikely venue, a liberal college town and a rare Democratic oasis in conservative North Florida. Trump immediately seized on recent news about hikes in Affordable Care Act premiums averaging 25 percent.

“As you know, it’s just been announced that Americans are going to experience another massive, double-digit spike in Obamacare premiums including a more than 100 percent increase in the great state of Arizona. They’re going up 100 percent.”

Trump didn’t miss another opportunity to slam rival Hillary Clinton, at one point accusing her campaign of hiring goons to disrupt his rallies. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi helped warm up the crowd, but another prominent Republican supporter, Governor Rick Scott, was noticeably absent.

Some fans waited hours in the backs of pickup trucks in a traffic jam that stretched for miles along I-10. Elvira Nichols, a Columbia native, share’s Trump’s disdain for the press and said she isn’t troubled by the Access Hollywood video in which Trump brags about groping and kissing women. 

“I have three brothers back in Columbia and I have listened how they talk about girls, how they talk about women when they feel that nobody is listening, and girls sometime talk about guys.”

Several Trump supporters say they’re paying a price. Dave Lesko, a retired credit union executive who lives in Killearn, nearly came to blows with a stranger.   

“I had somebody rip off a Trump sticker off my car this morning, in the Governor’s Square parking lot. I caught him. I made him put it back on. I had a Trump sign in my yard, it’s been knocked down twice already. But that’s Tallahassee.”

Supporters exiting the rally were met by a group of sign waving, anti-Trump protestors with bull horns. Police initially separated the two crowds by closing a pasture gate.

Florida State University political science student Zachary Schultz said he opposed Trump’s treatment of women and minorities.

“We are fighting across the country to build a movement that can end the oppression against black people, immigrants and women and oppressed people all across this country.”

Schultz said he participated in anti-Trump rallies at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.