HOUSTON (CN) — In Houston Monday night to support Ted Cruz’s campaign to retain his seat in the U.S. Senate, President Donald Trump called Cruz’s Democratic opponent Beto O’Rourke a “stone-cold phony” who “wants to take away your guns.”
The estimated crowd of 16,000 in the Houston Rockets’ home, the Toyota Center, some of whom camped out overnight to get a seat, cheered loudly during Trump’s 45-minute speech when he combined the hot-button topics of illegal immigration and health insurance.
“In this election you can send a message to the radical Democrats: Don’t mess with Texas, vote for Ted Cruz and vote Republican. Democrats in Congress have already signed up for a socialist takeover of health care that would destroy the health insurance of more than 20 million Texans,” Trump said.
“Republicans will always protect Americans with pre-existing conditions. The Democratic plan to destroy American health care includes free health care for illegal aliens, paid for by the American taxpayer.”
Some of those charges are unsubstantiated.
Trump said O’Rourke, an El Paso congressman, had received an F rating from the National Rifle Association. “You know what an F means? He wants to take away your guns. I never even heard of an F,” Trump said.
Trump said nobody in Congress has helped him more with tax cuts than Cruz, and said, “We’re going to be putting in a 10 percent tax cut for middle class families.”
He said there would be no more tax cuts for businesses. “This is just for families,” he said.
“The Democrats, instead of a tax cut you’re going to have a big beautiful tax raise. You don’t want that. They are against law enforcement, ICE and they are against your vets. How do you win on that?” Trump said.
Katt Lomison, 60, traveled to the rally from Porter, an incorporated town of 25,000 residents about 30 miles northeast of Houston.
As “Sweet Home Alabama” blared from a PA system outside the arena before the rally, Lomison stepped to the side of a dense line of Trump supporters, many wearing red Make America Great Again hats, to tell what she likes about the president.
She said that thanks to the tax cuts Trump signed in December 2017, she is bringing home $112 more in monthly salary.
Lomison said O’Rourke’s criminal history makes him unfit for office. O’Rourke was arrested for misdemeanor DUI in 1998, but the charges were dismissed after he finished a diversion program.
“I think he’s a phony and he’s already went to jail for criminal things and how can he even possibly expect to become an important part of our Congress whenever he’s already a criminal?” Lomison said.
Trump is trying to make political capital from the thousands of Honduran and Guatemalan immigrants who have traveled to Mexico’s southern border, where authorities are letting them into Mexico in small groups to apply for asylum.
“I think it’s a Democratic plan to bring all those people over,” Lomison said, an unsubstantiated claim Trump also made in his speech.