There’s No Ship like Partisanship! Florida, DC Trump Fans Hold Boat Parades After His Stormy Weekend

As social-distancing orders have made it difficult to gather on land, supporters of President Donald Trump have shifted to the seas.

Pro-Trump boat parades, some boasting thousands of watercraft, have been organized during the past week in Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Virginia, a new tactic in a close-fought presidential contest. All seven states are on Trump’s must-win reelection list.

A flotilla of yachts and other boats sailed or motored up the Potomac River on Sunday, streaming U.S. and “Trump 2020” flags under the watery reflections of the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Pentagon and the Georgetown spires that house some of President Donald J. Trump’s biggest critics.

A lone red-hulled speedboat parodying former Vice President Joe Biden trailed the Trump flotilla, flying a Soviet hammer-and-sickle flag alongside a sign featuring the name of the Democratic presidential nominee.

Labor Day: A pro-Donald Trump Boat Parade of an estimated 1,200 watercraft left Jupiter, Florida on Monday, September, 7, 2020, headed south for West Palm Beach. (Craig Litten/Zenger)
The boat parade on Florida’s Atlantic coast was one of at least eight such gatherings over Memorial Day weekend. (Craig Litten/Zenger)

The Potomac River divides the nation’s capital from the state of Virginia. Trump failed to win in either jurisdiction in 2016.

Another mass of watercraft larger than its Washington D.C. counterpart gathered in a show of strength on Florida’s Atlantic coast Monday, and motored 25 miles to the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort home.

The boat parade started in Jupiter, a wealthy beach town, and wound south along the Intracoastal Waterway to West Palm Beach. From nose to tail, an estimated 1,200 boats spent more than an hour passing a single bridge.

Palm Beach County is home to some of America’s wealthiest residents and the size of their powerboats showed it. But all walks of life were represented: Kayaks and rowboats joined in, with Trump supporters on more expensive boats cheering them on. Onlookers, in hats and sunglasses, lined bridges with flags promoting Trump’s reelection.

Some fans tied flags to their fishing poles and hollered.

Swimmers on Jupiter’s banks gawked and marveled, and some dried off with Trump-branded towels, which some children used as walking campaign ads.

People in Jupiter, Florida gathered for a Memorial Day party and watched the flotilla alongside Trump-Pence signs and one advertising the congressional candidacy of right-wing Internet personality Laura Loomer, on Monday, September, 7, 2020. (Craig Litten/Zenger)
Swimmers in the Jupiter Inlet carried Trump reelection flags and swam as the end of Monday’s boat parade disappeared past the horizon on Monday, September, 7, 2020. (Craig Litten/Zenger)
Onlookers lined bridges all along the 25-mile boat parade route, which ened near President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort home, on Monday, September, 7, 2020. (Craig Litten/Zenger)

Trump needs all the free publicity he can get to shore up his base as Election Day looms less than 60 days away. Though public opinion polls show the race tightening, Biden remains in the lead.

During another far larger flotilla Saturday on Lake Travis in Texas, the wake left by larger boats caused five smaller craft to sink, according to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.

On Florida’s west coast, an estimated 11,000 boaters gathered Monday for a pro-Trump parade near Pine Island. Organizers said they have asked Guinness World Records to certify their event as the largest such convergence in history.

Florida is a key battleground state in this year’s presidential election, as it has been for decades. The president officially changed his state of residence last year, moving—on paper, at least—to Florida and away from New York. Florida has no state income tax while New York City residents can face an income levy of more than 12%.

Trump has feuded with New York’s Democratic party-run city and state governments on everything from Covid-19 preparedness to the privacy of his personal income tax returns.


Labor Day Trump Boat Parade in the Jupiter Inlet near the Jupiter Lighthouse in Jupiter, Fla. which is in Palm Beach County, Fla., home of President Donald Trump on Monday, September, 7, 2020. (Craig Litten/Zenger)
Monday’s onlookers included people flying pro-Trump flags from fishing poles on bridge overpasses, on Monday, September, 7, 2020. (Craig Litten/Zenger)
Kayakers and rowboaters with pro-Trump flags and clothing were spotted al;ong the boat parade route Monday near the Jupiter Lighthouse in Jupiter, Fla. (Craig Litten/Zenger)
Children swimming in the Jupiter Inlet had Trump beach towels awaiting them when they got out of the water on Monday, September, 7, 2020. (Craig Litten/Zenger)

Although permits for mass gatherings in public waterways can take weeks to obtain, the results came just as the president emerged from his own weekend of stormy seas caused by The Atlantic.

Relying on an anonymous source, the 163-year-old magazine’s top editor wrote Friday that during a 2018 trip to France, Trump refused to visit a military cemetary, saying “[i]t’s filled with losers.”

Trump fired back Monday during a White House press conference, calling The Atlantic’s story “a hoax” and claiming the editor “made up the story.”

“Only an animal would say a thing like that,” the president said, announcing that 15 current and former administration officials have now stated publicly that the story’s events never happened.

(Edited by Richard Miniter)

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