WASHINGTON ― The operator of a pro-Donald Trump bus that most recently appeared at an “America First” rally featuring Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia is being asked to remove the name of a popular website hosting service from his “Trump Train.”
“GoDaddy doesn’t sponsor the bus and we don’t have any advertising relationships with the bus/owner whatsoever,” GoDaddy spokesman Dan Race told HuffPost in a statement Monday. “They don’t have permission to use our brand on the bus and we’ve asked them to remove.”
Buddy Hall said Monday that he never meant to suggest GoDaddy was a sponsor. “They built us a nice website. I just wanted to show my appreciation.”
In any event, Hall said he was planning to remove GoDaddy’s name as well as everything else as part of redoing all of the Trump iconography he originally used to “wrap” the tour bus in early 2020. “It’s coming off. It’s all coming off. Mike Pence is coming off,” he said, before hanging up when HuffPost asked why he was removing the name of Trump’s vice president.
Hall explained in interviews in early 2020 that he had paid for the bus and had it decorated with a giant image of Trump’s head imposed on fictional boxer Rocky Balboa’s body and other imagery to help promote the former president’s reelection campaign because he felt Trump had done so much for the country.
Hall, who has been described as a “Mississippi businessman” but who appears to live in Arizona, raised money for the bus by selling pro-Trump shirts, hats and souvenirs, but he also solicited donations, including through a GoFundMe page.
“The expenses to keep the Trump Train traveling across the USA are great,” Hall wrote last year. “Just to fill our tank with gas is $800 every three days! Bus repairs, bus payment, meals, tour team, it all adds up!”
The page raised only $795 of its $10,000 goal, and Hall in February had listed the bus for sale before taking it off the market and updating it for a possible 2024 campaign.
“We’re on the Trump 2024 revenge tour,” he said in a video posted to Facebook, along with photos and video from Friday’s rally with Gaetz and Greene, in which Hall explained how he had replaced the final “0” in 2020 with a “4” and the “2” in “Ready for Round 2” with a “3.”
The six-minute video also explains why Pence, whose likeness is currently on the bus, will not be on the new version. “We were going to put Pence under the bus, but he don’t even qualify to be there,” Hall said. “I think he took a check from China. It would be nothing to give him $5-6 million to do what he did.”
Many Trump supporters remain enraged that Pence did not do as Trump wanted and reject electoral votes from enough states that had voted for Democrat Joe Biden to give Trump the Electoral College victory. Neither the Constitution nor federal law permits the vice president to do such a thing, as Pence’s own legal analysis concluded.
Hall said he would replace Pence’s image with those of Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump Jr. and conservative commentator Candace Owens. He added in the video that he has found a sponsor for the new $14,000 bus wrap: Newsmax owner Chris Ruddy, whom Hall described as Trump’s billionaire friend and a member of Mar-a-Lago, the former president’s Palm Beach, Florida, social club and residence.
“He wants us to put: ‘President Donald J. Trump loves Newsmax TV.’ And the ‘o’ in the love will be a heart,” Hall said.
A Newsmax official confirmed, on the condition of anonymity, that it would be paying for the ad on Hall’s updated bus wrap. “It sounded like a fun thing to do,” the official said. “We don’t really know him or anything else, but we just decided to buy a small ad there.”
Newsmax was among the pro-Trump news media aggressively pushing his lies that he had won the 2020 election in a “landslide” but that it had been stolen from him because of “massive voter fraud,” including some done by altering totals on voting machines.
The cable network has since apologized repeatedly for those stories after Dominion Voting Systems began filing defamation lawsuits against Fox News, Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, and others. Late last month the news outlet settled a lawsuit brought by a Dominion official who had to go into hiding after Newsmax falsely reported that he had helped rig the machines against Trump.
Trump spent weeks attacking the legitimacy of the Nov. 3 election after he had lost. Those falsehoods continued through a long string of failed lawsuits challenging the results in a handful of states. After the Electoral College finally voted on Dec. 14, making Democrat Joe Biden’s win official, Trump began urging his followers to come to Washington on Jan. 6 to intimidate his own vice president and members of Congress into overturning the election results and installing Trump as president for another term anyway. The mob he incited attempted to do just that as it stormed the Capitol. His supporters even chanted “Hang Mike Pence” after Pence refused to comply with Trump’s demands.
A police officer died after being assaulted during the insurrection, and two others took their own lives soon afterward.