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Story highlights

The venue was changed from a 4,000-person venue to a football stadium that can hold up to 43,000

Attendees gathered as early as 6 a.m. CT

(CNN) —  

Donald Trump brought 30,000 supporters from deep red Alabama to a Friday night pep rally in a football stadium, the latest sign that the Republican front-runner has broad, nationwide strength.

Over an hour of often rambling remarks, the New York businessman reveled in the crowd size while he offered them his usual menu of patriotic pledges and carefree criticism of the media, his opponents and political correctness that he said his crowd similarly despised.

“We’ve gotten an amazing reception,” Trump said as he began his remarks, turning his back to the podium at the Ladd-Peebles Stadium and pointing to the rafters behind him. “Has this been crazy? Man!”

The event had the trappings of a big Friday night high school match-up. Trump flew by the stadium in his private jet shortly before 6 p.m., doing a loop around the arena before landing. The fly-by was announced over the stadium’s loudspeaker to cheers.

The event was previously planned to be held at the nearby Civic Center but was moved to the 43,000-seat Ladd-Peebles Stadium – a venue normally home to high school football games – to accommodate the crowd. The City of Mobile confirmed late Friday that 30,000 people attended.

“It was one of the greatest events Mobile ever put on aside from Mardi Gras,” said Colby Cooper, Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s chief of staff.

01:44 - Source: CNN
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Trump – whose victory in national and early-state polls is no longer a surprise – has in recent weeks taken steps to quickly professionalize his political operation. And his event at a stadium that each year hosts college football’s Senior Bowl was an effort to assemble the grandest show of force yet.