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Dueling rallies for and against Trump roil through El Paso during president’s visit

4 weeks ago
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President Donald Trump is pushing back against criticisms that a leak of his private schedule suggests he is not working hard.Time

EL PASO – Mariachis versus MAGA hats. Pro-wall versus pro-immigrants. President versus potential presidential hopeful.

This Texas border city of 684,000 residents was rocked Monday with dueling political rallies, as a campaign event by President Donald Trump was met with counter protests led by former Democratic congressman and El Paso native Beto O’Rourke, widely believed to be a potential contender against Trump in next year’s presidential election.

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Across the city, pro-Trump backers voiced their support for the president, especially in his steadfast effort to erect a border wall along the southwest border with Mexico. A campaign rally at the El Paso County Coliseum drew several thousand supporters.

Trump took a jab at his El Paso rival, calling O’Rourke “a young man who has very little going for himself except he has a great first name.” His speech was interrupted repeatedly by anti-Trump protestors in the crowd.

“Where do these people come from?” Trump said, widening his arms.

A mile away, several thousand protestors shouldered a windy, cold evening to hold a counter-rally. Protestors held signs that read “Immigrants Make America Great” and “BETO 2020,” while mariachi music rang out.

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O’Rourke delivered a speech in both English and Spanish, denouncing Trump’s policies and harsh rhetoric on immigration.

“We, together, are making a stand for the truth against lies and hate and intolerance,” he told the cheering crowd. “We are going to show the country who we are.”

trump-el-paso-border-wall-support-oppositionThe Trump rally, held in strongly Democratic El Paso, came a week after the president’s State of the Union address, where he angered many locals by saying El Paso was “once considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities” until a security fence was erected. Trump has asked for $5.7 billion to build a border wall, a key sticking point in a recent government shutdown that dragged for 35 days.

Christie Buckley, 48, of Fort Hood, Texas, drove nine hours to attend the rally. She pulled into the coliseum at 5:30 a.m. and was one of the first in line.

“I think he’s one of the greatest things to happen to this county,” Buckley said of Trump. “I’m amazed by him. I appreciate that he tells the truth.”

Sherry Lewis, a school teacher from El Paso, said she took the day off to attend the president’s rally, calling it a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

“I believe in what he’s doing for the country,” she said. “He’s keeping his promises.”

The sentiment was dramatically different a mile down the road.

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