Nov. 27 (UPI) -- U.S. President Donald Trump took the stage in Sunrise, Fla., before nearly 20,000 supporters Tuesday night for a 2020 election rally during which he championed his controversial intervention on behalf of three soldiers charged with war crimes and defended himself against the Democrats' impeachment inquiry.
The event was labeled a "Homecoming" rally as it was Trump's first election event in the sunshine state since he officially made his Mar-a-Lago Florida resort his primary residence instead of New York, claiming in November the move was instigated by the poor treatment he received from political leaders, some of whom are attempting to get his financial records as part of a criminal investigation.
He kicked off the rally by highlighting his recent move, saying in less than a year's time "I will join voters across the sunshine state -- my home -- as we head to the polls and together we will win back the house, we will hold the Senate and we will keep the beautiful, beautiful White House."
Trump spoke for nearly an hour and a half at the BB&T Center, beginning with his recent intervention in the cases of three military soldiers who he said were the victims of the "deep state."
"Just this week I stuck up for three great warriors against the deep state, and you know what I'm talking about," Trump said. "I had so many people say, 'Sir, I don't think you should do that.'"
Earlier this month, Trump pardoned two service members and restored the rank of a third who were convicted of war crimes, a move that military brass opposed and critics said sent the message to soldiers that they can get away with committing crimes while in uniform.
Trump told the rally that U.S. soldiers in combat "have to be able to fight."
"They can't think, 'Gee whiz, if I make a mistake...," he said.
He said it doesn't matter to him the complaints of those in "air-conditioned offices," he will support the troops.
"And I will always stick up for our great fighters," he said.
He then accused the "radical left Democrats" of attempting to "rip our nation apart" with their impeachment inquiry that he called "deranged" and "a witch hunt" and described with an expletive that garnered cheers from the crowd.
"The failed Washington establishment is trying to stop me because I'm fighting for you and because we're winning. It's very simple. They're attacking me because I'm exposing a rigged system that enriched itself at your expense and I'm restoring government of, by and for the people," he said.
His remarks come as the Democrats build a case against the president that he threatened to withhold military aid from Ukraine unless it investigates Joe Biden, his Democratic political opponent. The July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was revealed in a whistleblower complaint that spearheaded the impeachment inquiry.
Trump has long claimed he is the victim of Democrats seeking to overturn the 2016 election, a narrative he continued Tuesday night, saying they failed to oust him with the investigation in Russian meddling in the 2016 election and now the Democrats were pursuing this tactic because they can't win the 2020 election.
"They don't know what they're talking about. It's a scam. It's a hoax," he said.
But as Trump spoke, outside the home of the NHL's Florida Panthers, protesters demonstrated against his rally as a large inflated balloon depicting a cartoon baby Trump floated above.
"This isn't a homecoming rally," Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo said in a press release prior to the event. "It's a retirement party."