Since leaving the White House, former President Donald Trump has maintained a relatively low profile.
He emerged on Friday, however, for a surprise appearance at an event hosted by Wine, Women & Shoes at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, local NBC station WPTV reported.
“So great and so important”
The event was a fundraiser for Big Dog Ranch Rescue, an organization headed by Lauree Simmons, who formed it in response to China’s use of dog meat for human consumption.
This week’s fundraising event was designed to raise enough money to extract at least 500 dogs via cargo plane. Simmons had hoped to raise $500,000 through the event, though immediate reports did not indicate whether she met her goal. Thus far, Big Dog Ranch Rescue has reportedly saved more than 47,000 dogs.
Without preceding fanfare, Trump made an appearance at the event. Cameras captured him wearing his trademark red campaign hat as he gave an impromptu speech to those gathered nearby.
The former president lauded the organization’s mission, telling organizers that what they do “is so great and so important,” declaring that he “had many meetings in the White House and the Oval Office having to do with saving and helping dogs.”
“And that’s OK with me”
Trump’s appearance on Friday was a surprise to everyone involved and he indicated that his decision to address the crowd was a spur-of-the-moment one.
He said that he “didn’t exactly prepare for this,” explaining that he was “walking by” and heard “everyone screaming” so he decided to investigate.
“And it was like, ‘We’re going to help dogs,’ and that’s OK with me,” Trump said.
“Responded with a standing ovation”
Following the event, a spokesperson for the dog rescue organization released a statement expressing gratitude for the ex-president’s decision to appear.
“The crowd responded with a standing ovation for President Trump, Lara Trump and Laurie Simmons for the work they did to pass the first national anti-cruelty bill to protect animals,” Chase Scott wrote.
While Trump’s speech attracted widespread praise from his supporters, the event was not without criticism. A number of left-leaning news outlets have accused Big Dog Ranch Rescue of “funneling” money into the pockets of the Trump family and businesses.