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Online supporters of Trump grow louder, but the scene outside Mar-a-Lago is a different story

The Trump supporters were outnumbered by media outlets outside the Florida property after the FBI's search.
Supporters of former President Donald Trump rally outside Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., on Aug. 9, 2022.
Supporters of former President Donald Trump rally outside Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., on Aug. 9, 2022.Eva Marie Uzcategui / Bloomberg via Getty Images

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The online response to the FBI's search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago property has been swift and ominous, with predictions of a resurgence of extremism and even fears of a civil war.

But for the last 24 hours outside the 17-acre Palm Beach estate Tuesday, a convoy of local and national media have far outnumbered Trump supporters.

A couple of dozen Trump boosters converged on the site late Monday as news of the FBI's action broke, but by morning, even those meager ranks had begun to dwindle, and they had not picked up by 5 p.m.

"This is a great national story, a huge national story, and should be," said Eric Johnson, a South Florida-based Democratic political consultant. "But local people, voters, are going about their business. I don’t think it matters one iota in local elections. They're still talking about inflation or whether beaches have too much erosion." 

A source familiar with the matter has said Monday's search was tied to classified information Trump is alleged to have taken with him from the White House in January 2021.

In a written statement Monday, Trump blasted the search as politically motivated.

“These are dark times for our Nation, as my beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents,” he said in a lengthy email statement issued by his Save America political committee.

But Trump had decamped the estate for a scheduled event in Bedminster, New Jersey — leaving the supporters to gather outside a mostly empty property Tuesday.

Those who did turn out noticeably spanned the racial and ethnic spectrum, including supporters wearing Blacks for Trump, Chinese Americans for Trump and Latinos for Trump gear.

Nelson Marti, 67, said he drove the nearly two hours from Hialeah, just outside Miami, to support the former president.

"I think the FBI has lost all credibility, and what the Department of Justice is doing is disgusting — they crossed a line," Marti said. He predicted Trump would sweep back into power in 2024.

"We want everyone to know that we support him and that we've got his back," Marti said.

Palm Beach County is far from safe political territory for Republicans like Trump. The county voted decisively for Joe Biden in 2020, although Trump did win over more affluent precincts. The county’s mayor is a Democrat, as is Lois Frankel, the area’s congressional representative.

The Hialeah contingent, however, proved substantial. Also on hand was onetime Hialeah mayoral candidate Fernando Godo, 56. He said a mass gathering from Miami was being organized for Saturday.

"I consider him the real president," Godo said of Trump. He blasted Democrats as socialists and described the FBI's search as a violation of Trump's constitutional rights.

"It's not good for the country," Godo said. "We're out here representing the people."

Vanessa, 24, a Palm Beach County resident who declined to give her last name, spent the afternoon walking her dog, Lucy, while gawking at the proceedings.

“I don’t know what they’re here for,” she said. “It’s a little weird to have it so close to me, but I’m excited to see everything here.”