DALLAS (CN) – President Donald Trump touted the economic accomplishments of his administration during an enthusiastic rally in Dallas Thursday night, while potential presidential rival Beto O’Rouke told supporters across town that Trump is “fabricating fear” to divide the country.
Trump spoke to over 20,000 supporters at the American Airlines Center near downtown Dallas. He claimed Texas has gained over 775,000 jobs since his election and that 70,000 of those are in manufacturing. Trump touted the opening of a designer bag assembly plant built by French fashion house Louis Vuitton in nearby Alvarado that he visited earlier in the day for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“Our country is living by two simple rules: Buy American, hire American,” he told the cheering crowd.
The crowd’s biggest cheer of the night was for Trump’s mentioning the construction of a border wall at the southern border with Mexico, with a sustained chant of “build that wall.”
“It is going up rapidly, we are building that sucker right now and it is having a tremendous effect,” he said. “It is not easy. The fake news back there, they do not want to talk about it.”
Drawing loud boos, Trump told the assembled media to “don’t worry about it, I won’t talk about you networks … I’m going to say you legitimate media, but I don’t mean that.”
Trump joked he will be president “for the next 16 years” but “I am only kidding.”
“Every time I do that, they say, ‘See? He is assuming control,'” he said.
Trump supporter Paula, who declined to give her last name, is from Collin County. Describing herself as “staunchly anti-abortion,” she expressed her approval of Trump’s judicial appointments to the federal bench since his election. She said those judges are needed “to protect the lives of the unborn.”
Trent Maris, from Arkansas, said he is looking forward to voting for Trump in his first election next year.
“I feel inspired by all the love and camaraderie with the people standing in line with me today,” he said, adding he is surprised at not seeing more protesters.
Riffing on his lack of support in Hollywood, Trump claims the Academy Awards “failed” because “they came after us.”
“It failed because they had stupid people coming after us,” he said. “They are stupid people. Their ratings have dropped like a rock. I love seeing it.”
Trump attacked his political rivals in the Democratic Party repeatedly, claiming “Crazy Nancy” and “Shifty Schiff” want to “take your guns away and they want to install leftist judges” to take guns away.
“They are crooked as hell, they are worse than they’ve ever been. The only message these radical lefties will understand is a crushing defeat on Nov. 3, 2020,” he said. “Save that date.”
Trump singled out O’Rourke for promising he would remove tax-exempt status for churches and religious charities who oppose same-sex marriage.
“That’s the end of him in this state,” Trump said. “And that was weeks after he said he was going to take your guns away. The flailer, you remember him? … He got rid of guns and got rid of religion, that’s not a smart thing in Texas.”
Trump further mocked O’Rourke for “spending $100 million” in failing to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz during the midterm election.
As Trump was onstage, O’Rourke held a “Rally Against Fear” 13 miles away at the Theatre at Grand Prairie. He urged the 5,500 people in attendance to resist Trump’s false statements.
“I am proud of you guys for standing up and together and standing against the fear that Donald Trump – the man in the White House who holds the highest position of public trust in the land – the fear that he is trying to use against us,” a tie-less O’Rourke said.
O’Rourke was unapologetic about wanting to fully ban assault rifles. Gun control has been featured at the top of his campaign since a mass shooting at a Walmart in his hometown of El Paso killed 22 people in August.
O’Rourke remains mired in the single-digits in a field of approximately one dozen candidates for the Democratic nomination, lagging far behind leaders Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden.
O’Rourke also spoke of the fear people of color are feeling against violence, citing the shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson on Saturday in nearby Fort Worth in her own home by former police officer Aaron Dean, who is charged with murder.
As Trump began speaking, there were reports of several hundred protesters outside peacefully waving Kurdistan flags and chanting in support of Syrian Kurds. Trump has faced several days of intense bipartisan criticism of his decision to withdraw American troops from Syria, leaving the Kurds open to invasion from Turkey to the north.
Earlier Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence announced a five-day ceasefire had been negotiated with Turkey. The negotiations did not involve the Kurds, as Turkey deems them “terrorists.”
Trump said his “unconventional” approach was “let them fight a little bit,” comparing the Kurds and Turkey – who he called “our friends” – to “two kids” that you “have to let fight.”
One unidentified man wearing a black shirt and khaki shorts was arrested outside while wearing a vest, helmet and backpack. He was searched and a gun, spray can and gas mask were confiscated by Dallas police and the U.S. Secret Service.
Trump’s rally came at the end of a chaotic, tumultuous day within his administration. Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced he will quit his job by the end of the year. Perry has been subpoenaed by House Democrats for his involvement in setting up a July 25 telephone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The call has rocked Washington and resulted in an impeachment inquiry against Trump due to him asking for “a favor” for Ukrainian officials to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter.
Trump told the crowd that Perry “could not have done a better job” the past three years and that he was a “great” governor of Texas.
Calling Biden “Sleepy Joe,” Trump told the crowd “I don’t think he has a chance” of winning the election. He accused Hunter of accepting “payoffs, massive amounts of money” from a Ukrainian energy company.
“Joe made them fire the prosecutor, but they don’t want to show the tape where he was bragging,” Trump said. “They got rid of the prosecutor. Now that’s what you call quid pro quo. That is fake news.”