December 8, 2023

Donald Trump bragged about the size of the crowd at his rally in Hialeah, Florida, despite videos appearing to show empty seats at the venue circulating across social media.

The former president on Wednesday appeared in South Florida for a dueling campaign rally the same night his Republican rivals faced off in the third GOP debate in Miami, a city that has trended toward Republicans in the crucial swing state of Florida in recent years. Trump declined to participate in the debate, as he did the first two, as he continues to hold a substantial polling advantage over the other presidential contenders.

Instead, Trump held a rally in Hialeah, a suburb of Miami with a high Cuban American population, a demographic that has helped Republicans see recent victories in Florida, including Trump’s 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns.

During the rally, he bragged about the size of the crowd that turned out for him, boasting that “tens of thousands” of people attended the rally.

Donald Trump speaks at a Florida rally
Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday speaks during a rally at Ted Hendricks Stadium at Henry Milander Park in Hialeah, Florida. Trump claimed during the rally that “tens of thousands” of people were in attendance, but videos showed empty seats in the venue, which only has a capacity of about 5,200.
Photo by RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP via Getty Images

“I’m standing in front of tens of thousands of people right now and it’s on television. That’s a lot harder to do than a debate,” he said.

However, the venue only holds about 5,200 people, the Associated Press reported. Videos also spread across social media appearing to show several empty seats at the rally, though the exact number of guests remained unknown at the time of publication.

Newsweek reached out to Trump’s campaign for comment via email Wednesday night.

The Associated Press reported that “sections of the outdoor football stadium remained empty,” though some supporters camped outside the venue for more than a day prior to the rally.

“Lot’s of empty seats at #Trumprally stadium that seats around 5,200. Trump, of course, said “I’m standing in front of tens of thousands of people right now…” LOL! Very #MAGA!” posted X user @Utmb_Colorado.N

Never Back Down, an account affiliated with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis‘ campaign, posted a video appearing to show people leaving the stadium.

“HAPPENING NOW: People are streaming out of Trump’s BORING event while he is still speaking,” the video was captioned.

Laura Loomer, conservative activist and supporter of Trump, disputed the notion that there were empty seats at the rally, posting in response, “FAKE NEWS! The place is packed you pathetic miscreants.”

Trump has long bragged about his political rallies, which since 2016 have attracted thousands of his supporters across the country. The Hialeah rally was his 10th of the 2024 election season.

While debates have ensued about the size of his political rallies in recent months, polls suggest he remains popular with GOP voters. Trump is averaging support from 56.5 percent of Republicans, according to FiveThirtyEight’s aggregate of recent polls. DeSantis follows, with 13.9 percent. No other candidates are polling in the double digits.