Beto O’Rourke part of counter rally to Trump in El Paso
Former U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke confirmed that he will be part of a community rally in El Paso on Monday that is aimed at countering President Donald Trump’s visit to the city.
Trump is scheduled to lead a rally at 7 p.m. at the El Paso Coliseum to promote his call for a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. At the same time, O’Rourke, a Democrat who is considered a potential 2020 presidential contender, is expected to take the stage just three miles away at what is being called a “celebration of El Paso” or the “March for Truth.”
Trump’s visit to the state’s most western major city comes just days after his State of the Union address when he specifically pointed to El Paso as evidence that walls work.
“The border city of El Paso, Texas, 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, immediately upon its building, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of the safest cities in our country,” Trump said.
That statement brought immediate reaction from many El Pasoans who objected, noting FBI crime statistics show violent crime in the city has dropped significantly since the 1990s, well before the wall was built. Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, a native of the border city and a former El Paso county judge, sent Trump a letter asking for an apology.
In a statement to the media put out by O’Rourke’s former campaign spokesman announcing his participation, it says the event O’Rourke will be part of will show the reality of the border city: “a vibrant, safe, binational community that proudly celebrates its culture, history, diversity and status as a city of immigrants.”
O’Rourke did not organize the event. Dozens of community groups and election officials in and around El Paso are part of the event that will start with a march about a mile away at 5 p.m. El Paso time. El Paso is in the Mountain Time Zone.
Speculation has been growing that O’Rourke is poised to get into the race for the White House. During an interview Tuesday with Oprah Winfrey, O’Rourke said he would make a decision about whether he will run by the end of the month.
Trump’s rally in El Paso will take place five days before a Feb. 15 deadline to break an impasse with Democratic leaders in Congress over $5.7 billion for a border wall. It also comes as a caravan of about 1,800 Central American immigrants arrived at the Texas-Mexico border at Eagle Pass, hoping to enter the United States.
In going to El Paso, Trump will be in a city where he had one of his worst showings in the 2016 election. Trump won just 26 percent of the vote in El Paso County.