Trump headlines Dallas rally as scrutiny over Ukraine intensifies
President Trump was headlining a campaign rally on friendly turf in Dallas on Thursday, just hours after Energy Secretary and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced he would soon step aside amid scrutiny from House Democrats conducting an impeachment inquiry.
The rally came at a critical time for Trump, whose dealings with the president of Ukraine have been the subject of a quickly unfolding impeachment inquiry run by House Democrats. Perry was subpoenaed earlier Thursday by House committees conducting the probe.
Republicans have raised concerns that they might take a historic beating in Texas in 2020, as more suburban voters have balked at the president. Trump carried the longtime Republican stronghold and its 38 Electoral College votes by only 9 points in 2016 — down from Mitt Romney’s 15-point win in 2012.
And, Democrats have pointed to demographic trends as well as the fact that Republican Sen. Ted Cruz won reelection by just over 2 points last year as evidence that the second-most-populous state could soon be in play.
The line to enter a campaign rally for President Trump forming outside the American Airlines Center on Thursday in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)
“I expect President Trump to win Texas by 5 percentage points, not 9 points this time,” Southern Methodist University political science professor Cal Jillson told Politico. “There are long-term demographic changes taking place in the state that eat into Republican support. The major cities like Austin, Houston and Dallas are already leaning blue. Plus, his Republican coalition has been destabilized by his own actions and conduct.”
At the same time, Trump’s campaign and the RNC have been raking in money, raising a record $125 million in the third quarter of this year. By comparison, former President Obama and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) raised just over $70 million in the third quarter of 2011 for his reelection campaign.
The RNC raised a record-setting $27.3 million just last month and had $59.2 million cash as of the end of August, amid the impeachment push against the president — which has fueled GOP campaign contributions heading into the 2020 election.
This cycle, to date, the RNC has more than doubled the DNC’s fundraising efforts, according to the GOP, which also noted that the Democrats, as of last month, carried $7.3 million in debt.
The campaign continued to haul in cash Thursday. Trump began his trip at a fundraiser in Fort Worth that raised about $5.5 million for Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee benefiting the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee. Looking to promote new jobs, Trump then toured the recently built Louis Vuitton plant in Alvarado with his daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump.
“I’ve seen that before,” Trump told his tour guides while pointing to one of the iconic bags set up on a table.
While Republicans largely have defended Trump, they have sounded alarms over his decision to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria — a move that paved the way for Turkey to invade and assault the Kurds, who’d fought alongside the U.S. in its campaign against Islamic State militants.
Upon landing in Texas on Thursday, Trump credited his threat of sanctions on Turkey and the violence that has unfolded for the announcement of a cease-fire, though critics said Trump green-lit the incursion and put the Kurdish forces in danger by announcing a U.S. troop withdrawal.
A sea of red hats as supporters of President Trump lined up to enter the campaign rally on Thursday in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)
Trump described the cease-fire as an “incredible outcome” that could not have occurred “unless you went somewhat unconventional.”
A White House meeting between Trump and congressional lawmakers to discuss the situation Wednesday devolved into an insult-fest, with the president calling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., a “third-grade politician,” and Pelosi and other top Democrats storming out.
A senior aide for the Democrats told Fox News that Trump began the meeting, which ostensibly had been called by the White House, by remarking that “someone wanted this meeting so I agreed to it.” Trump also was said to have told Pelosi, “I hate ISIS more than you do,” prompting Pelosi to respond, “You don’t know that.”