In all respects, it was a typical Trump spectacle. He took credit for job growth in Texas —jobs, which, it turns out, he didn’t create. He ranted about the fake news media, about the “radical” and “crazy” Democrats whom he accused of attempting to destroy America. “You know, I really don’t believe anymore that they love our country. I don’t believe it,” Trump said before his audience erupted into chants of “four more years!”
Trump spent much of the rally defending himself from the impeachment inquiry. He derided Rep. Adam Schiff who leads the investigation against him, and boasted about the fact that he released a transcript of the Ukraine phone call showing him asking the president of another country to investigate the leading candidate challenging him for the White House.
He also laid into Beto O’Rourke.
“Last week, a very dumb Democrat candidate for president– that’s the end of him in this state– pledged to remove the tax-exempt status of many churches and religious charities,” Trump said, referring to O’Rourke. “And by the way, that was after a few weeks ago he said, ‘excuse me, we’re going to take your guns away,’ that doesn’t work well in Texas.”
That Texas is a battleground may come as a surprise to those outside the state, but even in Trump’s original 2016 run there were signs of trouble. Trump won Texas by only nine points—well below the historical average. Three years later, Democratic organizing, close elections, greater investment, and a renewed interest in the state by the national Democratic Party– Trump is playing defense in Texas.
Trump’s visit to Texas comes at a time when the state’s Republican Party is reeling from the release of a secret recording implicating Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen.
O’Rourke held a Democrats’ rally later Thursday night, sounding more positive and values-driven notes than the president.