DALLAS — Beto O’Rourke will stage a counter-rally next week during President Donald Trump’s mega-event in Dallas.
According to his campaign, O’Rourke will headline a 6 p.m. event at The Theatre in Grand Prairie, which seats about 6,300. The public is invited to his “Rally Against Fear,” which is expected to feature music and other entertainment.
Trump is holding what’s expected to be a large rally on Oct. 17 at American Airlines Center.
“We will not be defined by this president’s fear, his hate, or the differences between us that he tries to exploit but instead by a renewed sense of hope and a unified vision for the future of our country,” O’Rourke said in a news release. “In this moment of smallness, paranoia, and division, Texas is going to lead the way with our strength, our courage, our diversity, and the big, bold, ambitious things we want to achieve together.”
O’Rourke, a former congressman from El Paso and candidate for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, has blamed Trump for the August shooting in El Paso that claimed 22 lives and injured numerous others. He’s branded the president as a racist and said his divisive rhetoric hurts the nation.
The dueling events will be the second clash between Trump and O’Rourke. Last February, O’Rourke headlined an El Paso rally during Trump’s visit there. Attended by thousands, it was designed to push back against the president’s contention that El Paso is a dangerous city and a border wall is needed to protect it — and the nation.
“We know that walls do not save lives, walls end lives,” O’Rourke said at the time, alluding to the suffering and death that asylum seekers from other countries have faced. “We stand for the best traditions and the values of this country … for who we are when we’re at our best, and that’s El Paso, Texas.”
Texas, long a Republican stronghold, is critical to Trump’s reelection strategy. His 9% victory over Hillary Clinton in Texas in 2016 was the worst showing in decades for a GOP presidential nominee, and Sen. Ted Cruz kept his Senate seat last year over O’Rourke with a margin of 3 percentage points, signaling that Texas is becoming more of a battleground state.
In visiting Dallas, Trump will be holding a rally in one of the state’s bluest counties. In 2016, he got slightly less than 35% of the vote. In 2018, Cruz got 33%.
In his 2018 Senate contest against Republican incumbent Cruz, O’Rourke overwhelmingly won Dallas County. He also won Tarrant County and pulled 46% of the vote in reliably red Collin County.
O’Rourke has campaigned on his ability to win Texas against Trump in the general election. But he’s far behind former Vice President Joe Biden and others in the Democratic race for president.
Trump’s visit will also be the first to Texas since the U.S. House launched an impeachment inquiry over a whistleblower’s allegation that Trump abused his office when he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate Democrat Joe Biden’s family. The White House released a rough transcript of the July 25 call and made public the whistleblower’s complaint. Trump has said he did nothing wrong.
It will be Trump’s second visit to Texas within a month, though the rally on Sept. 22 in Houston was not a campaign event. That rally featured Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and attracted about 50,000 people, the largest U.S. gathering with a foreign leader.
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