Bobby Bowden spoke in praise of Donald Trump at a rally for the presidential candidate Monday in Tampa. Of the election, the former Florida State coach said, “We have got to win this doggone thing.”
Wearing an American-flag tie, the 86-year-old Bowden came onstage to the Seminoles’ war chant and “Tomahawk chop.” He drew cheers by telling the crowd, “I was invited down to come down and introduce our new president.”
“I’ve never known an election that’s more meaningful than this one,” Bowden said. “I’ve been through a lot of elections, right? But, boy, this one is important.”
Florida is of particular importance to Trump, who may well need to carry the state to have any hope of defeating Hillary Clinton for the presidency. Bowden, who made himself a legendary figure in the state while coaching FSU from 1976 to 2009 during which his teams won two national championships, has been an outspoken supporter of the Republican Party in the past.
In a 2009 Wall Street Journal article, it was suggested to Bowden that “Republicans tend to revere strong, singular executive leaders — a pretty good description of a coach.” He replied, “That definitely does fit the football coaches’ mold. It’s not a dictatorship, but it’s on the verge.”
Bowden said that on Monday morning, he and his wife, Anne, had voted in Tallahassee, where FSU is located. Bowden emphasized that his wife, “being a female,” had voted for Trump. He added that he had two daughters and three granddaughters who would also vote for Trump. “So put me down for eight,” Bowden said, either committing a minor mathematical error or omitting another like-minded family member.
Bowden told the rally that he “loved what [Trump] said about making America great again,” noting that he was raised in the 1930s and ’40s, “and we had great military back then.” He said that Trump would give the country the “strong military” it needs.
“Aren’t you getting tired of these other nations embarrassing us?” he added. “Russia flying over our ships, you know, and then them taking our sailors prisoner over in Iran — we’ve got to get our military up to where they don’t dare.”
Of Nov. 8, a.k.a., Election Day, Bowden said, “That’s our kickoff. You’ve got to be there. You’ve got to vote.”
The ex-coach concluded by claiming that “one of the great qualities men had” in previous periods of American history was that “they were men who depended on God.” Bowden said he hoped Trump would help bring that quality back.
At an April rally before the Indiana Republican primary, Trump was introduced by former Hoosiers coach Bobby Knight, who called the candidate “the most prepared man in history to step in as president of the United States.” Here is video of Bowden’s comments.