Giuliani rallies Italians for Trump in cramped Philly conference room

Dozens of Trump supporters packed into a cramped conference room to hear Rudy Giuliani's Columbus Day remarks in Philadelphia. (Katie Meyer / WHYY)

Dozens of Trump supporters packed into a cramped conference room to hear Rudy Giuliani's Columbus Day remarks in Philadelphia. (Katie Meyer / WHYY)

Rudy Giuliani’s Monday jaunt through Philadelphia didn’t end up being exactly what the Trump campaign had in mind.

A last-minute venue change left several dozen supporters of the president — and of Giuliani, one of his more prominent surrogates — packed into a small conference room in the Trump campaign’s Northeast Philly campaign office.

Trump is trailing in recent Pennsylvania polls. Current averages have Biden ahead by about seven points in the crucial swing state. But Giuliani, like the president and many of his supporters, argued enthusiasm for Trump is stronger than it seems.

“That enthusiasm doesn’t get measured in polls,” he told the crowd.

The visit to Philadelphia was in honor of Columbus Day, and Giuliani’s speech was pitched as an “Italian Americans for Trump” event. It also featured former Pennsylvania Congressman and prominent Trump booster Lou Barletta.

Joe Biden was meanwhile running a very different slate of holiday events.

His campaign put out a statement in celebration of Indigenous People’s Day in lieu of Columbus Day.

“Our nation has never lived up to our full promise of equality for all — especially not when it comes to the rights of the indigenous people who were here long before ships arrived from Europe,” they wrote.

As far as the Trump supporters at Giuliani’s event were concerned, their candidate had gotten it right.

“Very close in my heart, Christopher Columbus,” said Marlene Busillo who was wearing a face mask emblazoned with South Philly’s Christopher Columbus Statue, which is slated for removal, and Giuliani had visited earlier in the day. “To be a part of all this, it’s very exciting.”

Jennifer Simiriglia, a South Philly resident and registered Democrat who said she’d voted for Barack Obama in the past — “yeah, my mistake,” — said she does her “own research” and feels Democrats are lying about Trump.

“They’re giving a false narrative, they’re lying, the media lies,” she said. “All my neighbors who live in South Philly and my friends are all Democrats, and we are all voting for Trump.”

Persistent rumors about why Giuliani’s speech had been moved from South to Northeast Philadelphia flew around the small event. A spokesman for Mayor Jim Kenney didn’t return a request for comment about whether his office had been involved.

State coronavirus restrictions were recently loosened, and now use a capacity-based cap.

In a statement posted to social media, the original venue — the 15,000 square foot 2300 Arena — said the rally had been canceled due to “existing COVID-19 government restrictions.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that an owner said the event had been misrepresented to them, and they canceled it upon realizing it was a Trump rally.

Which way will Pa. vote?

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