MELBOURNE — The man President Donald Trump summoned from the crowd at his Saturday rally is a Boynton Beach car salesman who keeps a life-size cardboard cutout of Trump at his house and regularly praises Trump on social media.
Gene Huber, 47, became an instant political everyman celebrity Saturday when Trump spotted him in the crowd and, saying he recognized him from a TV interview, asked him to come on stage and speak to the estimated 9,000 people in a hangar at Orlando-Melbourne International Airport.
After Secret Service agents were told by the president to let him on stage, Huber bounded up and hugged the president, who encouraged him to say a few words.
“Mr. President, thank you, sir. We the people, our movement, is the reason why our president of the United States is standing in front of us today. When President Trump during the election promised all these things that he was going to do for us, I knew he was going to do this for us,” Huber said.
“A star is born,” Trump said as Huber left the stage and the crowd chanted “U.S.A! U.S.A!”
Huber had done TV interviews earlier Saturday proclaiming his support for Trump after showing up at 4 a.m. to be first in line for the 5 p.m. rally.
On Twitter, Huber’s profile picture shows him with a cardboard cutout of Trump.
“I’ve got a 6-foot cardboard box of President Trump in my house and I salute that every single day, and I pray and tell him ‘Mr. President, I prayed for your safety today.’ And I’m not lying. I do that every single day to the president, but its cardboard,” Huber told CNN in an interview after the rally.
CNN is often criticized by Trump and his supporters. At the end of his interview, Huber said: “I appreciate the interview, let’s just be a little, little nicer to our president.”
Huber was also interviewed by Fox News Saturday night after the rally.
He also appeared this morning on Fox and Friends — and said he’s already hearing suggestions that his Saturday appearance with the president wasn’t genuine.
“I just want everyone to know this as well: I’m hearing from the left that this was planted, that President Trump made this to happen on purpose, like we set this up. No, it didn’t. It did not happen,” Huber said this morning on Fox and Friends.
“President Trump, I want to thank you so much for that opportunity that you did for me. That just shows us, we the people and our movement, that you care about us, the American people,” Huber said at the end of his interview.