When Gene Huber talked to the 6-foot-tall cardboard cutout of President Donald Trump in his home Saturday morning before leaving for Trump’s Florida rally, he had no idea that hours later he’d be talking to the president onstage.
Huber, a former Ronkonkoma resident who now lives in Boynton Beach, Florida, was attending his third Trump rally when the president invited the self-described uber-fan onstage at the Melbourne, Florida, event.
“I can’t believe it,” Huber, 47, said in a telephone interview on Sunday. Huber was born in Hicksville and in 1987 moved to Ronkonkoma, where he lived for 17 years. He still has a used-car business with a friend in Bethpage, he said.
Huber called his encounter with the real-life Trump the greatest moment of his life.
“I’m a Republican, but I’ve never been into politics until President Trump” announced his candidacy for president, Huber said. “Now I’m glued. He speaks from his heart and whatever he says he’s going to do, he really does it. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
The life-size cutout is one of many Trump items Huber has in his home, he said. Others include a talking Trump pen, money with Trump’s picture on it, seven Trump coffee cups, glasses commemorating the inauguration, a Trump clock, a Trump key chain, Trump coasters and, of course, a Trump signature red “Make America Great Again” hat.
“Every morning I salute him,” Huber said of the cutout. “I ask him how he’s doing and say, ‘Mr. President, I pray for your safety and hope you have a wonderful day.’ ”
Huber said he arrived at the Trump rally site at 4 a.m. to wait for the doors to open at 3 p.m. He went to one Trump rally in West Palm Beach last year and to the president’s Thank You Tour in Orlando in December.
“He brings the excitement to us and we’ve got to show our love back,” Huber said.
As the first in line at the Florida rally, Huber said he had been interviewed by several reporters by the time Trump arrived.
Trump said during the rally that he had been watching Huber on television on his plane before landing and pointed out Huber, dressed in a Trump T-shirt, in the crowd. Trump told Huber to get up and jump a fence to join him onstage and instructed the Secret Service not to worry.
Trump, getting a hug from Huber, asked him to say a few words. Huber complied, calling Trump a man of his word.
“It’s hard to explain the general rush I got,” Huber said Sunday. “What I said came from my heart, it’s the biggest day I can ever have.”
At the end of their encounter, Trump said of Huber, “A star is born.”
“Before this, on Twitter I had like 200 followers, now it’s close to 9,000,” Huber said.
Huber is a father of two: daughter Alyssa, 17, and son Gene, 5. His wife, Cathy, 46, also is a Trump supporter, “but not as extreme as me,” he said.
Next up, Piers Morgan’s show on Monday night.
“I’m going to be on his show in England,” Huber marveled.