Welcoming gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum (D) with the slogan “bring it home,” about 1,500 people rallied at the USF Campus Recreation Center (REC) on Monday to hear fellow Democrats Sen. Bill Nelson and former Vice President Joe Biden’s support for Gillum.
Gillum hosted the “get-out-and-vote” rally to encourage college students to use the early voting site at the Yuengling Center, which opened Monday at Gate A from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. until Nov. 4.
Variations of blue and white signs labeled “women for Nelson” and “students for Gillum” were raised high in support of the Democratic candidates.
However, student supporters of President Donald Trump wearing “Make America Great Again” hats were outside the rally holding signs in support of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Rep. Sean Shaw — who is running for attorney general — stressed the importance of the Nov. 6 deadline to vote alongside incumbents Rep. Janet Cruz and Rep. Charlie Crist. Lieutenant governor candidate Chris King welcomed Nelson to the podium after proclaiming his excitement to be Gillum’s running mate.
The audience of mostly Democrats from the community collectively chanted in anger when Nelson expressed disappointment in his opponent and current Governor Rick Scott’s (R) direction in education, his support to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the conditions of the red tide.
“One of the great things about Andrew (Gillum) and Chris (King) is that they are reversing all of the policies of Rick Scott,” Nelson said.
Gillum was next to address the crowd, greeting the audience with a “go Bulls” and exclaimed, “Are we ready to flip Florida blue?”
According to NBC news, data suggests that Republican-affiliated voters are outnumbering Democrats at the early polling locations so far.
Gillum expressed the importance of college students voting and reminded the audience that early voting and mail-in ballots are options to make voting more convenient.
“If you care about the future of this state, it is not enough for us to just be here shouting about it, to tweet about it, to Facebook about it, to complain about it,” Gillum said. “We have to get out there and vote like our lives depend on it — because our lives do depend on it.”
According to a CNN poll conducted by SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), Gillum is leading with 54 percent over his 42 percent opponent Ron DeSantis (R). Nelson, at 50 percent, is running a close race with Scott, who is at 45 percent.
Gillum’s speech was geared toward helping college students out of debt, creating affordable housing and securing jobs, so students can comfortably live in Florida after graduating.
“I want you to follow your dreams until it feels like a dream,” Gillum said.
Biden took the stage by praising Nelson and Gillum for their involvement with the Affordable Care Act and his disapproval of the actions of Trump.
“We have a president who is putting his own self-interest into the country,” Biden said. “A president trying to amass power, so he can abuse the power.”
He furthermore discussed the importance of Medicaid and curtailing global warming.
Talking to both college students and local Democrats, Biden told the crowd that there will never be an election cycle that is more important than this one.
“This election is bigger than politics — for real,” Biden said. “This goes well beyond, no matter how young you are or how old you are.”
After joking that the online memes about Biden and former President Barack Obama’s relationship are true, he said it was difficult for the pair to stay silent after the Charlottesville march in Virginia. He said, “We’re in a battle for the soul of America.”
The charged crowd shouted remarks about Trump, but Biden demanded the crowd be attentive.
“I am not looking for cheers, I want you to do something beyond cheers,” Biden said. “I want you to be as focused as I am to make sure we can change this.”
Biden continued to discuss Trump’s behavior by pointing to his neglect of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and the mistreatment of immigrants.
“America already knows who Donald Trump is, we have to make sure they know who we are,” Biden said.
The election is bigger than the Democratic Party and the country is in desperate need of a change, according to Biden.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it is time we get the hell up and take back this country,” Biden said.