After Pointed Interview on The View, Donald Trump Jr. Surrounds Himself with Fans — and Some Protestors — at Book Event
"I am anti-Trump, I just wanted to see who was here," said one person at the book signing
A day after Donald Trump Jr.‘s contentious appearance on The View — where he was faced by Meghan McCain and, he later groused to Sean Hannity, the hosts didn’t even ask him about his new book — the president’s oldest son appeared at a Florida bookstore for an event with hundreds of fans and a few protestors.
Dressed in a natty dark suit, he signed copies of Triggered, which was released last week, at Barnes & Noble in Palm Beach Gardens on Friday night.
There were about 500 jubilant supporters who paid $35.77 each to see Donald Trump‘s son, who has become a major campaign surrogate, and take home a book that Don Jr. signed for them.
“We came to support Don Jr. because we strongly oppose the impeachment proceeding and we love the administration’s focus on family,” Sandra Olsen told PEOPLE while waiting to enter the store.
Outside, in the parking lot and along the highway nearby, about four dozen Trump supporters held signs as a handful or so of Trump critics watched the scene.
“About 10 of us came tonight representing activist women who want to make people aware of the hate and discord shown by the current Republican Party,” said IIean Dittrick, of the Blue Wave Coalition, a liberal organization opposing Trump.
“We have learned that protesting is a waste of time,” Dittrick told PEOPLE. “Now we are organizing to get things done.”
Another woman was carrying a pair of lighted signs that said “Boycott Barnes & Noble.”
Inside, Don Jr., 41, did not speak to the group or have much personal conversation as he smiled and quickly signed each ticket holder’s copy of Triggered — which is part memoir, part polemic and part celebration of his father — from a set-up in the back of the store.
His eager fans were squired around the room for about half an hour until they had their less than 15 seconds with Don Jr., who runs the Trump Organization in New York City with his brother Eric Trump.
Given the self-selecting group of supporters who paid to attend the book signing, few if any of them seemed bothered by the House of Representatives’ impeachment investigation over President Trump’s relationship with Ukraine.
“We like the whole Trump family,” Josh Zitta, whose family owns a company that drives a Trump Jumbotron to events, told PEOPLE. “We go to many Trump events. We have had guns pointed at us but we believe in pro-life and pro-Israel. We came from Brazil where we didn’t have it so good. We like what Trump is doing with the U.S.”
Dr. Joan Lagoulis of Palm Beach Gardens was equally emphatic, telling PEOPLE, ”[Trump] is the best president we have ever had — he is right up there with George Washington. He is keeping us safe.”
Don Jr. has been heavily promoting Triggered, including with help from his dad on Twitter.
On The View on Thursday, where he appeared with girlfriend and Trump campaign adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle, Don Jr. clashed with the hosts on questions about impeachment and the Bidens while defending his father’s presidential style.
In a more somber moment, McCain, whose late father was been denigrated by President Trump both before and after death, told Don Jr.: “You and your family have hurt a lot of people and put a lot of people through a lot of pain …. Does all of this make you feel good?”
“I don’t think any of that makes me feel good, but I do think that we got into this because we wanted to do what’s right for America,” he replied.
Later in the episode, he said of his dad, “When he’s under attack by the same people, when he’s under attack by the establishment, when he’s under attack by this. The reality is this: He’s a counterpuncher.”
Hours after his View interview, Don Jr. appeared on Hannity’s show with supporters in Alabama where he joked of the daytime talk show’s hosts, “I don’t think they like me much anymore.”
Don Jr. also discussed his own political future earlier in the week on CBS This Morning, saying he has not decided whether to run for office himself but admitted that he would prefer “the campaigning over governing.”
Outside Friday’s event, Palm Beach Gardens resident Josh Hernandez, who did not buy a ticket, said he decided to come out because he was curious what kind of people would come to see Don Jr.
“I am anti-Trump, I just wanted to see who was here,” Hernandez told PEOPLE. “I don’t like the president’s informality or rhetoric, and I think racism has gotten worse in this country since he was elected. We are not living in normal times.”