Right: AP Photo/Rudy Gutierrez Left: REUTERS/Leah Millis
- President Donald Trump and former Democratic congressman Beto O’Rourke spoke at rallies in El Paso, Texas on Monday night.
- Trump spoke at the El Paso County Coliseum, which was draped with banners reading "finish the wall" — an apparent update to his "build the wall" campaign slogan.
- O’Rourke spoke at a pro-immigrant, anti-Trump march organized by activists, which ended at a baseball field a mile away from Trump’s rally.
- Here are some of the scenes from the dueling rallies in El Paso, Texas.
President Donald Trump and former Democratic congressman Beto O’Rourke spoke at rallies in El Paso, Texas on Monday night.
Trump spoke at the El Paso County Coliseum, which was draped with banners reading "Finish the Wall" — an apparent update to his "Build the Wall" campaign slogan.
O’Rourke, who is from El Paso and served as the district’s congressman, spoke at a pro-immigrant, anti-Trump march organized by activists, which ended at a baseball field a mile away from Trump’s rally.
O’Rourke, who narrowly lost his bid for Senate to incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, is considering a 2020 presidential run. His senate campaign was noted for his ability to raise funds from small donations and energize Democratic voters in a red state.
As multiple outlets pointed out, the opposing rallies were a preview of the 2020 campaign season — which for a growing field of democratic candidates is already underway. (O’Rourke, for his part told Oprah, he’d decide before the end the month whether he’d run or not.)
Trump’s rally began amidst reports that lawmakers had reached a tentative deal on border security, which would avert a potential government shutdown in four days.
The longest ever government shutdown — 35 days — ended on January 25. It began over Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion in funds for his proposed US-Mexico border wall; in an about face he said he would not sign stopgap bills to fund the government without that money. A bill with wall funding could not pass in the Senate, and then after January 3, when the Democrats took over the House of Representatives, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would not fund Trump’s wall.
The shutdown ended when Trump signed a stopgap measure to fund the government until February 15.
Trump talks El Paso and the wall — and fact checkers responded
REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez
As the Associated Press and The New York Times reported, Trump repeated several falsehoods at his rally.
"We’ve actually started a big, big portion of the wall today at a very important location, and it’s going to go up pretty quickly over the next nine months," Trump said.
The AP points out, however, that this portion is only 14 miles long and funded by Congress last year. For context, the border is roughly 1,933 miles long — 1,279 miles of the border does not have a fence.
Trump also said that the fencing along the border in El Paso was the cause for lower crime rates in El Paso. This, The Times says, is not true.
"The El Paso Times, which analyzed three decades of statistics from the F.B.I. and the local police, found that crime peaked in 1993, with more than 6,500 violent crimes recorded," according to The Times. "It then dropped by 34 percent over the next 13 years."
Crime did go up 17% two years before, and then two years after a fence was constructed during 2008 and 2009.
Trump jabs at potential 2020 opponent O’Rourke
Trump took a shot at his potential 2020 opponent, and it echoed a familiar 2016 attack: mocking crowd size.
"He has 200 people, 300 people, not too good," Trump claimed.
"A young man who’s got very little going for himself — except he’s got a great first name — he challenged us," Trump continued. "That may be the end of his presidential bid."
This number was off, according to the Associated Press, which didn’t have an exact number but put O’Rourke’s crowd in the thousands.
Bloomberg reporter Jennifer Epstein tweeted far larger numbers: "El Paso police estimate a crowd of 10,000 to 15,000 for the anti-Trump, anti-wall, pro-O’Rourke march and rally tonight."
INSIDER called the El Paso Police Department to confirm those numbers, but has not yet heard back. We will update as necessary.
Border security negotiations
Meanwhile, lawmakers on Capitol Hill said they reached a tentative agreement on border security funding to avoid another government shutdown.
The Associated Press reports that the bill contains "$1.375 billion to build 55 miles" of a border barrier made of steel slats.
This figure is much less than the $5.7 billion that Trump was demanding, so it’s unclear if he’ll take this deal.
“I don’t know what they mean progress is being made," Trump said at the rally. "Just so you know, we’re building the wall anyway."
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Source: Business Insider