Cape May County Welcomed President Donald Trump

Cape May County Welcomed President Donald Trump

Social Media posts described President Donald Trump’s visit to Wildwood, as magical, exhilarating. Another said fun for the whole family. Thousands braved the chilly temperatures for a place in line waiting outside Wildwood Convention Hall overnight. In some cases two nights. People were seen lining route 47 as Cape May County welcomed President Donald Trump to Wildwood.

“Once our staff finished the physical set up, the Secret Service took over and were in complete charge of the event,” Ben Rose, the Director of Marketing and Public Relations of the Greater Wildwood Tourism Authority said. “Consequently, they determined when we were at capacity.”

Pre-registration was required for the general admission audience. Convention Hall’s capacity was strictly set at 7500. Much of that was standing room on the floor in front of the stage from which the President and Congressman Jeff Van Drew addressed the exuberant crowd.

Deputy Press Secretary Sara Matthews

Deputy Press Secretary Sara Matthews

“My department received more than 800 requests for media access,” Sara Matthews, Deputy Press Secretary for the Trump Campaign said. “We could only approve 300 of them,” she continued. Media were confined to a cordoned off area referred to as the “pen” an hour before the President’s arrival.

Statistics are a debatable topic when it comes to events. Congressman Jeff Van Drew boasted a pre-registration of 175,000. Computerized registration is also seen as an information collecting vehicle. Followup emails are already hitting inboxes. Access was divided into general and expedited admission.

Jaclyn Buckingham-Scola a Middle Township resident starting the rally, singing the National Anthem.

From there local politicians such as State Senator Testa and State Republican Party heads warmed up the crowd.

Thunderous Reception

“I love New Jersey, and I’m thrilled to be back right here in the Garden State,” proclaimed the President. Thunderous applause and cheers greeted the President with Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA playing on loudspeakers hanging from the ceiling.

Photo by John Cooke (

“Together we’re achieving historic victories for New Jersey families. You see it every single day. The New Jersey unemployment rate has decreased to the lowest of all time. More people are working today in the state of New Jersey than ever before.” The President proudly touted. 

Yeilding the podium to Congressman Jeff Van Drew for a few minutes, the President introduced Van Drew as the newest Republican Congressman. Van Drew switched parties over the Impeachment controversy. The Presidential visit was seen as a sign of gratitude and support for the Congressman’s change. “Jeff, it’s an honor to be with you,” the President said.

“Now when I was in the White House with the president, he asked how he could help me. I asked if he could come down to South Jersey and have a rally. Without even hesitating, he said yes and he is here, a man who keeps his word to ensure that the eyes of the world are on South Jersey and all of us.” Van Drew said.

Afterward, President Trump spoke for just under an hour. A shorter speech, described by those who follow him. When he referred to attendance, the President pointed towards the media area and declared, “they won’t tell you how many people are here, they’re the fake news.” A Slightly unnerving moment, even though professionals I know described the moment from previous rallies.

The President acknowledged the capacity crowd of 7500 and another 10,000 more outside watching the event on jumbotrons. A number immediately challenged by one reporter’s tweet. Later confirmed via text message from someone outside who did not get inside the rally.

The President introduced two other New Jersey dignitaries, former Governor Chris Christie and the advisor to President Trump, Kelly Ann Conway.“Mr. President, I think South Jersey is Trump country,” she said. “Mr. President, thank you for all you’ve done to add respect and resources to our military, to our great veterans, having the best economy in the world, two new trade deals, two Supreme Court justices, two dead terrorists.” Conway continued.

The President ballyhooed about economic achievements and growth, military spending and the successful elimination of terrorists. He avoided impeachment but took a few shots at Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic party.

A personal experience

In my previous blog about the rally and in a radio interview I said I would not have stood in line like his loyal followers. Getting credentialed was not something I expected. When the email approving my credentials arrived I paused for several minutes to think and consider the ramifications of a possibly once in a lifetime opportunity.

In the run-up to the event, there was a lot of public bullying on social media. Several businesses I know had to remove advertisements for viewing parties under threats of losing customers. I was even called a racist for publically suggesting that a dear friend might want to disc jockey the event. Others have trolled pages leaving disparaging remarks.

I am not affected by the President’s charisma as some of his followers. I didn’t care for the colosseum atmosphere when the President pointed in my direction and yelled fake news and 7500 pairs of eyes stared at us in the ring like they were ready to release the lions.

But my experience is just as valid as the woman who tells me, “my President looked towards me and my eyes filled with tears, it was truly a magical moment.”

Hopefully, only emotions got hurt, and Wildwood profits from its fifteen minutes of fame.









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  1. David Greene
    January 31, 2020 / 3:08 pm

    Thank you very much for this important reporting, John!

  2. January 31, 2020 / 4:07 pm

    Fabulous coverage John, great photos! We can always count on you for great photojournalism that tells it like it is…. not to mention anything Cape May! Exciting that you got to attend this once in a lifetime event among a limited number of approved members of the “PRESS!”

  3. January 31, 2020 / 4:15 pm

    Great article John! I was outside watching on the jumbotron. Definitely a once in a lifetime experience, even for the people outside (in the cold) knowing our president was right inside the convention center!

  4. Mike Madigan
    January 31, 2020 / 8:35 pm

    Good article, John. Well written as usual! I’m glad you went. However when you say, ” He avoided impeachment but took a few shots at Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic party.”, I’m not surprised. Well whether he spoke about impeachment or not, he will be forever recorded in the history books as “impeached”. Just today (Jan 31)his party voted to not have witnesses at the senate trial because they know if they did, it would again prove his guilt. As a Canadian I am shocked at the many American people who have fallen for this corrupt man. And when he looked your way and said “fake news” it shows his contempt for those who report the facts that Trump constantly lies about. Yes, constantly.
    However I do appreciate you being unbiased in your comments. And when you say “Wildwood profits from its fifteen minutes of fame.” that pretty well sums it up. What also summed it up for me was something you did not mention in this article. And that was all the literal garbage I saw on social media left strewn around Wildwood. Shocking but symbolic, in many ways!

  5. Mike Madigan
    February 1, 2020 / 5:28 pm

    Normally I don’t do rebuttals esp in a fine blog like John has here. But the garbage Wendy R. mentions was left since they “couldn’t bring (it) inside”???????????? What is the problem with going back and picking it up? I have on occasion forgotten a doggy bag when my dog has pooed on the Wildwood beach. I hate when that happens….how careless of me. But I definitely go back with a bag and pick it up. Why couldn’t these individuals have gone back and picked up their garbage??? No excuse not to do so. So I see this as symbolic of many Trump supporters who see him as a savior. However he cares little for climate change and will go down in USA history as one of the worst!