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Trump Talks Everglades, Lake O at Naples Rally

With just 15 days until Election Day, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump kicked off a three-day tour of Florida cities Sunday with a rally in Naples. 

Several thousand people gathered at the Collier County Fairgrounds for his 6:00 p.m. speech. Many waited for hours, and while the line was long and there was evident antipathy for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, many said the mood was light even if their concerns for the country were not.

Lee Bostick owns a fishing charter business on Marco Island. She and her husband made the trip to northern Collier County to support Trump. Bostik cited concerns about corruption and immigration heading into the election, but her biggest worry is healthcare, and the rising costs she said her business and family can’t afford.

“My health insurance has gone up over 100 percent," Bostick said. “For me alone, we pay over $1,100 a month just to cover my health insurance. And it’s almost impossible for me to afford a plan.”

Trump flew into the rally ahead of schedule, landing just yards from the podium in a helicopter with the real estate mogul’s name emblazoned on its side. Trump was introduced by congressional candidate Francis Rooney, and was joined at the podium at former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, but Trump's speech rang familiar bells: condemning trade deals like NAFTA, pledging to build a wall along the Mexican border, and lambasting what he called President Obama's and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of Iraq and ISIS.

But the Republican candidate also focused on issues specifically geared to southwest Florida.

“A Trump administration will also work alongside you to restore and protecting the beautiful Florida Everglades,” said Trump. “Our plan will also help you upgrade water and wastewater, so that the Florida aquifer is pure and safe from pollution. We will also repair the Herbert Hoover Dike in Lake Okeechobee.”

Trump also laid out a plan for the first 100 days of a Trump administration, what he called a “100 day contract,” vowing to re-freeze the thawing relationship between the U.S. and Cuba, and laying out a plan to bolster defense spending and enforcement nationwide. Trump promised those efforts would see deployment in Florida waters.

“New Navy and Coast Guard ships will patrol the Florida coast to prevent drugs, and terrorists, from entering our shores,” Trump said.

Shortly after finishing his speech, it was back to the Trump helicopter. The candidate took off and headed east, where he moves on to two more days of Florida events. He has rallies in St. Augustine and Tampa on Monday, with stops in Sanford and Tallahassee on Tuesday.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton campaigns in Coconut Creek on Wednesday. Her VP pick,Tim Kaine, is in Miami and Palm Springs Monday.

Matthew Smith is a reporter and producer of WGCU’s Gulf Coast Live.
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