PALM BEACH, Fla.–Former First Lady Melania Trump made a rare public appearance at a flashy event in Mar-a-Lago Club on Feb. 10 to support the former president’s third bid for the presidency.
The former first lady smiled as she hugged her husband before he took the stage for a short speech. Many members of Congress, celebrities, and former presidential contender Vivek Ramaswamy also attended in a show of support for the former president.
President Trump’s daughter, Tiffany Trump Boulos, attended with her newlywed husband, Michael Boulos. They were seated alongside former Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is engaged to the former president’s son, Donald Trump Jr.
About 800 of former President Donald Trump’s wealthiest supporters gathered to honor him on his home turf in an event hosted by the Trumpettes, a group of wealthy female supporters of the Republican frontrunner.
These supporters donning formal attire said they share a belief with other Trump fans from all walks of life. Many consider President Trump to be uniquely qualified–and perhaps preordained–to lead America out of its current economic, safety, and immigration crises.
“I think God anointed him to save this country,” event organizer Toni Holt Kramer, president of the support group Trumpettes USA, told the audience that filled Mar-a-Lago’s main ballroom on Feb. 10. “America is the love of his life.”
In a separate interview with The Epoch Times, she said: “He’s got the biggest heart, the smartest mind, and the strongest way. There’s no one else like him.”
Other attendees echoed her sentiments in interviews with The Epoch Times, one of the few media outlets that sought and received permission to cover the exclusive gathering.
The event featured the enthusiasm of a typical Trump rally but in fancier surroundings; at one point, some people even chanted “Trump! Trump! Trump!” in the gold-accented ballroom featuring 17 crystal chandeliers.
Women wore gowns adorned in sequins, feathers, and fur; many men sported designer tuxedos. President Trump, who typically wears a red necktie, joked that he rushed to the celebration from a campaign event and slapped on a black necktie because the occasion required one.
Top Democrat’s Friend Supports TrumpIronically, Ms. Holt Kramer became a supporter of then-candidate Donald Trump after cultivating a friendship with the top Republican’s political foe, former secretary of state and Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“Even though I liked Hillary very much, it was time for me to consider what is the best for the country,” Ms. Holt Kramer told The Epoch Times. After studying the way Donald Trump operated Mar-a-Lago and his other businesses, Ms. Holt Kramer became convinced “this man needs to be president.”
When President Trump took the stage late Saturday, he recounted the genesis of the Trumpettes and Ms. Holt Kramer’s encouragement: “She came to me with some of our great friends ... and she said, ‘Sir, I think you can win ... but I just don’t know how you’re going to do with women.’”
“And I said, ‘Why? Do I have a problem with women?’” President Trump asked. The audience at Mar-a-Lago shouted, “No!”
The former president continued his story, saying that when Ms. Holt Kramer publicized an initial event for him, “She said, ‘Sir, the most crazy thing happened. We’ve had over 100,000 requests. I think you’re gonna win.’”
Since then, the Trumpettes have expanded to chapters worldwide, Ms. Holt Kramer said.
More About Love Than MoneyOn Saturday, attendees paid $850–$2,500 apiece to attend the Trumpettes’ event dubbed, “A Golden Evening for a Golden President.” But that money went toward recouping expenses, which included a VIP cocktail party, a lavish dinner featuring beef Wellington, and live entertainment.
The group’s goal is not fundraising; it’s awareness, Ms. Holt Kramer said, although many attendees also make financial contributions to President Trump’s campaign. The Trumpettes have held four annual extravaganzas to fete President Trump, event promotions say.
Saturday’s gathering “was almost like a family affair,” Ms. Holt Kramer said during a Feb. 11 interview, reflecting on the event. “Everybody there was like-minded and everybody there had the same goal: They want to save the country; to keep America safe; to let our children have a great country.”
“There was so much love in that room; I could feel it,” she said, noting people came from across the nation to thank President Trump for his contributions to America. They also came to encourage his candidacy while he faces multiple alleged criminal and civil legal battles.
Some attendees expressed disgust over the FBI’s raid of the former president’s home at Mar-a-Lago in August 2022. Agents seized classified documents that the former president was later accused of mishandling.
That tactic was unnecessary and was done to humiliate President Trump, his supporters said. Democrat President Joe Biden has denied political motives for such actions under his administration.
On ‘Extraordinary Mission’Trump supporter Rachelle Mand, who traveled to the celebration at Mar-a-Lago from Palos Verdes, California, said: “I think that no one on Earth would allow themselves to go through the horrible things they are putting him through ... He must be of extraordinary character, on an extraordinary mission, in this life.”
As a Persian Jew who was born and raised in Iran, Ms. Mand told The Epoch Times that she has a special appreciation for traditional American values.
“Trump represents everything that is important to this country,” she said. “He’s the one who is the symbol of freedom, of nationalism, loving our country ... And I want to support it in any way that I can.”
Ms. Mand said she was happy to attend Saturday’s event because “it’s so exciting to be part of something that could just push forward a little bit—even a little bit—our cause.”
That cause, she said, centers around preserving constitutional rights, including freedom, liberty, and free speech. “We are simple people who are conservatives and we want to be able to live our lives, and speak freely and have free elections, free of cheating,” she said.
Ms. Mand has lived in the United States for 50 years. She now sees her adopted home deteriorating.
“It has changed to a point where I’m not recognizing it. I’m not even feeling safe in this country, which is something I would have never ever thought that I would feel,” she said. “What we’re going through is an absolute destruction of this beautiful country.”
Illegal immigration is at the root of many of her concerns. She also is concerned about lack of support for law enforcement and the military. She is confident that President Trump will fulfill his promise to bolster those agencies and restore citizens’ safety.
“I think he’s a godsend,” she said. “He’s got a mission ... That’s my feeling—right or wrong, I don’t know.”
‘Semper Fi’ for US—and TrumpHoward Schaeffer, 55, said he came from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, to attend the event at Mar-a-Lago and show support for the former president because “President Trump has done nothing but selfless service for our country, for every citizen in this country, whether they realize it or not.”
He described the former president as “a very kind, beautiful person who loves America,” a description he bases, in part, on a personal experience.
In March 2020, Mr. Schaeffer had an unforgettable encounter with the former president at a town hall in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
In the midst of a crowd, Mr. Schaeffer yelled, “Mr. Trump, thank you for changing my life and saving America!” Upon hearing that statement, the former president walked back to Mr. Schaeffer.
“He grabbed my hand and pulled me in, and said how much he appreciated me saying that,” Mr. Schaeffer said.
“My knees almost buckled underneath me,” he said, adding, “It was breathtaking to meet such an amazing person.”
Mr. Schaeffer, who served in the U.S. Marines before becoming a realtor, wore a modern camouflage print vest with his tuxedo and a Marine-insignia lapel pin. He described why President Trump’s no-nonsense approach appeals to him.
“I’m a military guy. So I am very black-and-white about things,“ he said, ”and what he promised me, he delivered.”
After voting for then-candidate Donald Trump in the 2016 election, Mr. Schaeffer said he attended President Trump’s inauguration, sitting in the 10th row, in front of the Marine Corps band.
He went on to express his amazement at seeing what President Trump accomplished while in office with “zero help” from many Republicans. That was why he voted for President Trump again in 2020; it’s also why he is uninterested in voting for anyone else in the upcoming November election.
Mr. Schaeffer said he believes that since President Trump left office, the military has become distracted by extraneous concerns such as gender and ethnicity. He remembers his drill instructors emphasizing core principles: “Could you fire your weapon? Could you swim? Could you run fast? Could you keep your mouth shut? And could you follow orders?”
“That’s all I ever cared about. So all of this craziness that I hear that’s going on in the military, and I hear it from reliable sources, I think it’s very sad. It’s very sad for us as a nation,” Mr. Schaeffer said.
“We’re there to do a job. We’re there to save our nation. We’re there to protect it at all costs, including our life,” he said. “The rest of that stuff just doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t.”
Mr. Schaeffer said fellow military men disapprove of the shift away from its core principles. Several have told him that they did not vote for President Trump in 2020 but they’re “going back to supporting Trump” in this year’s election.
Mr. Schaeffer said he thinks President Trump will win this election unless Democrats pull off some shenanigans. Many people will vote for President Trump because they are “damn sick and tired of where we’re at right now.”
New York and Iowa PerspectivesJoanne Wolfe, a California transplant from New York, said she became acquainted with then-real estate magnate Donald Trump well before his presidential aspirations took hold.
Her family has hired him for various projects, she said, which gives her a different perspective than many people who were attending the celebration at Mar-a-Lago.
“I like his smarts ... he’s logical,” she said, adding, “There’s nothing like him out there ... Donald Trump really is our only answer.”
Ms. Wolfe said she and her husband of 45 years are both convinced that President Trump is “the only man who can help this country.”
“We voted for him last time; we voted from the time before,” she said. “We think it was rigged, 100 percent, and I’m here because I can’t see any other candidate, really, who is mentally stable and has a business background to negotiate with many countries all over the world.”
Angela Houston, a volunteer for the Trump campaign in Iowa who came to the Mar-a-Lago event, told The Epoch Times that the economy used to be her top concern. That has been replaced by her worries over illegal immigration.
“Without a secure border, we’re not a nation. And whoever’s president is irrelevant if we’re not a nation anymore,” she said.
Ms. Houston, who has served as a police officer said, “We’ve got to secure the border. It’s not safe for our citizens. It’s not safe for our law enforcement. It’s not safe for children.”
She is encouraged, however, that people seem to be pushing back against open-border policies of Democrat President Joe Biden’s administration.
“We’re watching Democrats become Republicans,” she said. “You’re seeing the uprising in Chicago, in the Bronx, and in California because people are wondering, ‘Why are all these illegals getting more benefits than we do as Americans?’”
Because of that, she said, “The groundswell for Trump is huge.”
Big-Name Speakers Back TrumpMs. Houston and the other attendees spoke to The Epoch Times during a poolside cocktail party before making their way into the ballroom for dining, music, and remarks from luminaries, including the guest of honor, President Trump.
Tom Homan, former head of the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement under President Trump who became known for deporting illegal immigrants, told the audience: “In January 2025, when President Trump walks back in the office, I'll be on his heels. Give us 90 days and we’re gonna secure the border at a record level.”
The crowd cheered as Mr. Homan urged them: “Please, drop to your knees tonight and ask the good Lord to put the greatest president of my lifetime back in the Oval Office in January 2025. We need him back. He’s back; I’m back. We fix this (expletive)!”
Actor Lee Majors, beloved for his role in the 1970s American TV series, “The Six-Million Dollar Man,” told the audience that President Trump has an extraordinary quality in common with just two other people he'd met during his lifetime: iconic singer Elvis Presley and President Ronald Reagan.
“He has that same magnetic charisma ... it’s something you can’t explain,” Mr. Majors said.
Mr. Majors added that after he took office, President Trump truly strengthened the nation.
“He made America great, as he said he would ... he closed our borders, he made America energy-independent,“ Mr. Majors said, encouraging the audience: ”Please work hard to make 45 the 47th president of the United States.”
Other well-known people who came to support the former president included Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake of Arizona. Actor Kevin Sorbo presented businessman Mike Lindell, CEO of My Pillow, with the American Patriot Award for his tireless efforts to improve election integrity.
Remarks From Trump–And A GuestPresident Trump took the stage just after 10 p.m., noting that he had just returned from a rally in South Carolina where thousands attended. That’s the site of the first-in-the-South primary on Feb. 24. President Trump will face off against challenger Nikki Haley in the state where she formerly served as governor.
He thanked the Trumpettes as well as Club 47 USA, a Palm Beach-based organization that is named for the 45th president’s aspiration to become the 47th president. That club regularly draws 1,000 attendees to its monthly meetings; President Trump’s son, Eric, is slated for a sold-out speech to the group on Feb. 12.
After a speech that lasted about 20 minutes, President Trump welcomed his former Republican rival, Vivek Ramaswamy, to the stage.
“I was happy to get him the hell out of the race,” President Trump said as the audience laughed. Mr. Ramaswamy was a formidable contender who has a bright future in politics, President Trump said.
He praised Mr. Ramaswamy for endorsing him after exiting the race. “He’s young and he’s smart,” President Trump said, adding, “Melania and I were just saying ... you don’t get sharper than this.”
As Mr. Ramaswamy took the microphone, a man in the audience near a reporter uttered, “There it is, your VP ticket,” referring to Mr. Ramaswamy as a potential vice president for President Trump. Others, however, said they believe Mr. Ramaswamy would instead be appointed to a cabinet position.
Mr. Ramaswamy spoke briefly but his remarks ignited powerful roars from the crowd.
“We’re in the middle of a war in this country. And we need a commander-in-chief who is going to lead us to victory in this war. And that man is Donald J. Trump, the next President of the United States!” Mr. Ramaswamy said.
Then, as President Trump stood behind him, smiling, Mr. Ramaswamy acted like a pep-rally leader, getting the audience to recite the words, “Vote Trump!” in unison with him.
“If you want to seal the border—say it with me—‘Vote Trump!’” he said. “If you want to actually grow this economy, vote Trump!”
Ditto for fighting inflation, restoring national pride, and sending “Joe Biden packing home for the next four years.”
And, Mr. Ramaswamy said, repeating President Trump’s traditional campaign slogan: “If you want to make America great again, vote Trump.”
“Let’s make it happen, the 47th President of the United States,“ he said. ”May God bless the United States and Donald J. Trump. Thank you all. Go, Trumpettes!”