US President Donald Trump arrives at Palm Beach International Airport in Florida to spend the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort on February 17, 2017
Melbourne (United States) (AFP) - With his presidency in turmoil and political adversaries baying for blood, Donald Trump is trading the Washington mud pit for more soothing surroundings: a campaign stage and crowds of thousands chanting his name.
The provocative real estate mogul-turned-leader of the free world is not jump-starting his 2020 reelection bid -- not yet anyway.
But on Saturday, he returns to the medium that made him a political juggernaut, one he mastered in the 2016 campaign to the humiliation of his Republican and Democratic rivals.
Trump hits the campaign stump for a rally in Melbourne, a city on Florida's famed Space Coast, at 5:00 pm (2200 GMT), not as candidate but the nation's commander-in-chief seeking to reconnect with his tribe of largely white, male middle-class voters.
Melbourne, the White House said Friday, will be "a campaign rally for America."
The rally locale had all the flair and anticipation of a campaign event from 2016: Thousands of supporters in line, women wearing red "Make America Great Again" hats, men in "Bikers for Trump" shirts, toddlers asleep on parents' shoulders, and plenty of Trump merchandise for sale.
"I love our president. He's coming out for us, we the people!" car salesman Gene Huber, from West Palm Beach, told AFP.
He said he was first in line, arriving at 4:00 am to see his Republican political hero.
Huber and many other Trump fans around him were dismissive when asked whether they were concerned that Trump, as the country's 45th president, was employing the same contentious style from his time on the campaign trail.
"No jitters at all," Huber said. "This is a world leader now who's taking control."
The event will provide Trump an opportunity to bond with his base after a tumultuous start to his presidency.
Florida has been good to the New York billionaire, and Trump was clearly relishing the chance to return to the stump here.
"Big crowd expected!" he tweeted.
The populous southeastern state backed Trump in November, helping him seal his shock victory over his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
But the decision to hold the event appears to defy convention in Washington, coming as it does just one month into Trump's four-year term, when most new presidents are focused on finding their footing and getting their national security team and cabinet up to speed.
Trump has repeatedly pledged to do things differently.
And with the past week marked by his national security adviser's resignation, a withdrawal by one of his cabinet nominees, and a startling news conference loaded with vituperation, his team appears to have seen a return to his political bread and butter to be in order.
Tensions have soared in recent days as lawmakers pressed for more information about the Trump campaign's connections with Russia.
Congress is already investigating Russian interference in the November 8 presidential election, and the issue appeared to exasperate Trump on Thursday at his extraordinary news conference, where he denied his campaign had contact with Moscow.
As reporters pressed him on the sensitive issues, he lashed out, then ratcheted up his anti-journalist tirade in a Friday tweet, calling the media "FAKE NEWS" and "the enemy of the American people!"
It marked a new level of abrasiveness for Trump, who has made clear he believes the media are out to sink his presidency.
He is likely to continue such denunciations in friendlier company Saturday, much as he did during last year's campaign, when he called the media "some of the worst people I've ever met."
- 'Nobody does it better' -
Robert Sponsler, 64, a retired railroad worker from Jacksonville, turned his nose up at the stew in Washington.
"We don't care," he said of the various conflicts Trump is navigating. "He don't owe nobody nothing. I'm with him 100 percent."
The White House made no secret of the Melbourne rally's campaign-trail feel.
"President Trump, just as he did so effectively throughout the campaign, is going to continue taking his message directly to the American people," deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders said.
Journalists "don't always do the best job delivering his message, and nobody does it better than he does."
About a hundred protesters, some holding "Resist" signs, were seen across the street from the line of Trump supporters.
"Watch out, snowflakes," yelled one man who wore a black vest with a "DJT 45" patch. "It's warm out here, you might melt."
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle meanwhile continued to press for thorough, bipartisan investigations into Russia's role in the election.
FBI director James Comey personally briefed senators Friday amid the uproar over Trump's Moscow ties.