Supporters pack arena for Donald Trump rally
SARASOTA (FOX 13) - There were long lines of supporters outside of Sarasota's Robarts Arena for a Donald Trump rally on Saturday.
Doors opened at 9:30 a.m. for the free campaign event, with lines of people waiting to get inside wrapping around the block.
The rally was the first visit to the Tampa Bay-area for the Republican presidential candidate.
While only 4,500 seats were available inside the arena, according to Trump's campaign team, an estimated 14,000 people were expected to show up to the event.
Trump addressed the overflow crowd on the backside of the arena in a short speech after stepping off of his helicopter, even giving several children a ride inside the helicopter.
Trump visited Florida last month when he made stops before large crowds in Miami and Jacksonville.
The latest statewide poll shows Trump leading with 36 percent, followed by Marco Rubio, 18 percent, and Ben Carson at 15 percent. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was in fifth place with 8.9 percent.
According to FOX News, Trump has made some controversial campaign promises lately - including vows to monitor certain mosques, track Syrian refugees and bring back waterboarding.
Many of his supporters at Saturday's rally said it is his firm stance on immigration that drew their commitment.
"I became a citizen in 2012. This will be my first time voting," said Maritess Trosper, who is originally from the Philipines. "I am not illegal in the country. I did all the things I had to do, but it's not fair for me. They are trying to support these illegals. I am not paying my tax just to support lazy people or illegals. No way!" said Trosper before a cheering crowd.
During his speech in the arena, Trump reiterated his commitment to build a wall bordering Mexico if elected president. He also expressed his support of the Second Amendment.
"Some of those folks that were just slaughtered in Paris, if a couple of guns were in that room and were held by the good guys, you would have had a totally different story," said Trump.
He went on to tell the crowd he plans to eliminate Obamacare and Common Core if elected.
A few hecklers were escorted out of the arena during Trump's speech. The crowd booed them, as Trump told them to "be nice." He's received criticism in the past for addressing hecklers harshly.
Trump could face questions in the days ahead for an unusual stunt at Saturday's rally. An elephant was paraded through the crowd of people waiting to get inside. Trump's name was written on the elephant's body as well as his campaign slogan "Make America Great."
Animal activists quickly expressed their disapproval as pictures began circulating on social media.
It's unclear if Trump's campaign team had any involvement in bringing the animal to the event.