National Politics

Standing against fear, O’Rourke talks officer shootings, climate change, racism

Beto O’Rourke wants Texans to stand up against the fear that he says President Donald Trump has brought to America.

He wants Americans to loudly fight against racism, against those who aren’t actively fighting global climate change because it “isn’t good at the polls,” and against those politicians who are blocking gun control measures.

He wants women to be able to speak for themselves about reproductive rights at doctor’s offices. He wants smart gun control so teachers don’t have to fear going to a classroom. He wants police officers who can go to a black man or woman’s house without shooting them.

At a rally that drew more than 5,500 people to The Theatre at Grand Prairie on Thursday evening, O’Rourke also spoke about veterans with PTSD who don’t have adequate health care, Botham Jean and Atatiana Jefferson, and Mexico and the wall. He said he wants to invest in a home for every homeless veteran.

And he encouraged the thousands listening to him speak to vote next November and to register if they’re not already.

“All of you, from this part of Texas, from all parts of Texas, not only are you here tonight standing up to show the rest of the country what we are made of, against this president and against fear ... you had a record turnout last year (at the polls),” he said.

Meanwhile, about 14 miles east, at American Airlines Center in Dallas, President Donald Trump held his own rally.

The president started his Texas trip Thursday in Fort Worth, landing at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base and then heading to a fundraiser at the City Club downtown, where tickets ranged $5,600 to $250,000 per couple.

He then took a helicopter to Johnson County for the Louis Vuitton event, before he flew to Dallas for a 7 p.m. campaign rally.

At each event, Trump was welcomed by supporters as protesters gathered nearby.

Trump carried Texas, with 38 Electoral College votes, by 9 points in 2016. But Democrats have pointed to demographic trends as well as the fact that Republican Sen. Ted Cruz won re-election by just over 2 points last year as evidence that the second-most populous state could soon be in play.

Back in Grand Prairie, the atmosphere was filled with hope. Chants of “B-E-T-O” and the appearance of someone dressed in an inflatable baby Trump costume pumped up the crowd.

Monica and Joe Grizzard, who used to go door-to-door spreading their support of O’Rourke when the now presidential candidate was trying to remove Cruz from his office during the 2018 election, drove more than an hour to see O’Rourke.

The couple supports O’Rourke’s policies, and his energy.

“We think he’s a good guy,” Joe Grizzard said.

“He’s very charismatic and thoughtful and thinks before he speaks, even when he’s mad,” Monica added.

Fans began to line the sidewalk outside of the venue at around 4 p.m. on Thursday, about three hours before O’Rourke was expected to speak at his Rally Against Fear.

Before the candidate took the stage at around 8 p.m., handfuls of other Democrats spoke.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins opened by telling the crowd that the only reason Trump is even in Texas right now is because “he’s terrified.”

“As goes Texas, as goes his job,” Jenkins said. “Make no mistake, he is here because he knows what the biggest battle ground state of this country is ... Texas Democrats are rising.”

Before leaving, O’Rourke said to the crowd: “Texas are you ready? Let’s get after it and let’s get it done.”

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Nichole Manna is an investigative reporter for the Star-Telegram. Before moving to Fort Worth in July 2018, she covered crime and breaking news in Tennessee, North Carolina, Nebraska and Kansas. She is a 2012 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and grew up in Florida.