Speaking to a packed stadium that holds about 8,000 in El Paso, Trump referred to the former south
Trump took on O’Rourke, who held a march and counter-rally just miles from where Trump spoke to thousands of his supporters.
The president called him ‘a young man who’s got very little going for himself, except he’s got a great first name.’
President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the El Paso County Coliseum in El Paso, Texas on Monday
Trump supporters wait for the president to arrive before the rally in El Paso on Monday
A Trump supporter is seen above dressed up as a wall before the rally in El Paso on Monday
Workers prepare a banner for the rally which reads ‘FINISH THE WALL’ in El Paso on Monday
Trump also mocked O’Rourke’s claim to fame – he lost a Senate race against Sen. Ted Cruz, although he kept the margin close in a normally red state.
‘But he suffered a great defeat!’ Trump told the crowd using obvious sarcasm.
O’Rourke didn’t mention presidential politics in his remarks, but he took plenty of shots at Trump’s immigration policies and made his feelings clear on the president’s border barrier.
‘We stand for America and we stand against walls,’ he said.
O’Rourke, who has said he’ll make a decision on a 2020 bid by the end of the month, did implore his supporters to make sure ‘our leaders reflect our values and who we are.’
Trump, speaking on a stage flanked by two large red ‘Finish the Wall’ signs, made it clear why he came to the border.
‘A wall is a very good thing, not a bad thing,’ he told Fox News host Laura Ingraham in an interview after his rally. ‘It’s a moral thing, to put it in the opposite terms. We don’t even say build the wall anymore. We say finish the wall because we built a lot and we are renovating a tremendous amount of stuff that was really in bad shape but it had good structure. So we are saying finish the wall. Walls are very important.’
In freewheeling remarks at his rally, Trump also trashed the ‘green new deal,’ but didn’t single out its most prominent backer, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – although he bashed Democrats generally.
‘It sounds like a high school term paper that got a low mark,’ Trump said.
‘It would shut down American energy, which I don’t think the people in Texas are going to be happy with,’ the president continued.
‘It would shut down a little thing called air travel. How do you take a train to Europe?’ Trump said, mocking the plan’s goal of making air travel obsolete in a matter of years.
Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke speaks to a crowd inside a ball park across the street from where Trump was holding his rally on Monday
Trump spoke flanked by giant ‘Finish the Wall’ signs
His speech included red meat for the crowd, including attacks on Democrats
‘They want to take away your car, reduce the value of your home, and put millions of Americans out of work,’ Trump said.
Trump updated his 2018 campaign-attack on Democrats, when he called them the party of crime and open borders.
‘They’re becoming the party of socialism, late term abortion, open borders and crime,’ Trump said.
Then he took on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who during a widely-panned press conference responding to the blackface photo in his medical school yearbook allowed that he had once applied shoe polish to his face while portraying Michael Jackson.
‘He almost moonwalked. His wife stopped him,’ Trump said, to laughs, referring the moment when Northam turned to his wife when a reporter asked him if he could still do the ‘moonwalk.’
‘This would not have been a good scene. His wife saved him. Darling this would be inappropriate. I think she was right,’ Trump said.
The president also mentioned a possible breakthrough on budget talks including his beloved border wall, but indicated he was more interested in the rally.
‘They say that progress is being made with this committee,’ Trump said, acknowledging the news that broke shortly before he landed in south Texas.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill reached a tentative agreement on border security that would prevent a government shutdown if the president signs it.
The proposal, which the White House still must agree to, calls for $1.375 billion for physical barriers at the southwestern border – enhanced fencing measures – but no where close to the $5.7 billion Trump demanded to build his border wall.
Supporters held ‘finish the wall’ signs
‘We’re building the wall,’ Trump reassured the crowd
‘Just so you know, we’re building the wall anyway,’ the president said to laughs and cheers.
Describing the call where he got an update, Trump said: ‘I say, wait a minute I have to take care of my people from Texas. I’ve got to go I don’t even want to hear about it.’
And when his supporters yelled ‘build the wall,’ Trump corrected them to ‘finish the wall.’
He’s argued that part of his wall his built already. There is some 600 miles of border fencing already on the 2,000 mile U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump accused the the media of trying to “pull the wool over everybody’s eyes” with reports about the actual impact of the wall in El Paso.
The president mentioned the city in Tuesday’s State of the Union address, claiming it used to ‘have extremely high rates of violent crime — one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities.’
‘Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities,’ Trump said.
It is below the national average on crime despite being across from Juarez, Mexico, which experiences drug related gang violence.
Trump also went on a long, bizarre tangent on how it would be politically good for him to get a dog, but he wasn’t that type of person.
‘By the way, there is nothing better than a good old-fashioned German shepherd,’ he told the crowd as he waxed on about how good the animals are at police work.
‘You do love your dogs, don’t you you? I wouldn’t mind having one honestly but I don’t have any time. How would I look walking a dog on the White House lawn?,’ he said. ‘Right? I don’t know. I don’t feel. Feels a little phony, phony to me. A lot of people say oh, you should get a dog. Why? It’s good politically. I said look, that’s not the relationship I have.’
Then he mentioned his predecessor’s dog, Bo.
Trump went on a bizarre tangent about dogs
He mentioned President Obama and his dog – the Obama family is seen here with Bo and Sunny
Supporters cheer for President Trump
‘Obama had a dog,’ Trump said.
He also rallied the Texans by invoking their love and pride in the Lone Star state.
‘The Lone Star state embodies the spirit of Independence like maybe no other place anywhere in the world. And you have always embraced the cause of American freedom like no one else. This is the state where William Travis, James Bowie, and Davy Crockett made their last stand at the Alamo,’ he said.
‘This is the state where a small band of patriots half the battle of Gonzales, armed with a single cannon, stared down a four and powerful army and declared, and take it. Come and take it. Come on. Take it. And Texas is the state where generations of farmers, ranchers, oil workers, and pioneers, helped build up the most extraordinary nation in all of human history,’ he added.
‘That’s where we are. We were losing track. We didn’t lose track anymore. We are straight on that track. Now, just like generations of Texas patriots who came before, you are going to make your stand. That’s what we’ve done. We’ve made our stand, and we’ve made it together,’ he noted.