Thousands of conservative voters from across the state gathered in Houston this week as President Donald Trump visited the Lone Star State to campaign for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.
Although originally scheduled to take place at NRG Arena, with a capacity of over 10,000 seats, the outrageous demand of tickets to the rally required a last-minute venue change to the 18,000-seat Toyota Center. The arena was filled to capacity, with conservatives even watching on screens outside the venue.
Guests lucky enough to get inside the arena did so by waiting all day—and, in some cases, all night—in line. Some arriving as early as 10 o’clock on Sunday morning.
Because projected attendance rose throughout the weekend, the Trump campaign hosted a tailgate party throughout the day, with food, live music, and fellowship of like-minded patriots who travelled from all over Texas to support Cruz.
Gov. Greg Abbott, Sen. John Cornyn, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick opened the rally, encouraging their fellow Texans to vote for Republicans up and down the ballot.
“You have all these Californians throwing money at Beto O’Rourke. Beto O’Rourke is hostile to Texas values,” said Abbott. “We need your help to keep Texas as red as your MAGA caps tonight,” he continued, referring to the now-famous bright red caps sported by the vast majority of those in attendance.
Patrick also took the chance to swipe at Cruz’s Democrat opponent, “You know what Beto stands for? Border Enforcement Totally Optional,” he said.
To the sound of thunderous applause, Cruz took the stage, criticizing O’Rourke on a wide variety of issues, including his votes for higher taxes on oil and a vote he took while on the El Paso City Council for a rain tax. “I didn’t even know what that was,” Cruz quipped. “Here in Texas we like it when it rains.”
“Elections are about choices,” Cruz continued. “If you want a big government gun-grabbing liberal, well, you’ve got one.”
The grandest entrance, however, was reserved for Trump’s entrance onto the stage, with supporters cheering loudly and waving signs with sayings like, “Promises Made, Promises Kept,” “Drain the Swamp,” and “Mobs vs Jobs.”
Lasting over an hour, Trump’s speech was filled with his trademark ad-libs and entertaining comments on everything from Democrats in Congress to the incoming invasion of Honduran “asylum-seekers” making their way through Mexico for the southern border. After acknowledging the two’s rivalry during the 2016 presidential primary, Trump said, “Nobody has helped me more…than Sen. Ted Cruz.”
However, Trump saved his most pointed remarks for Beto O’Rourke, “The Democrats want to replace Texas values with Nancy Pelosi values. They want to replace Rule of law with rule of the mob,” he said.
Trump’s visit to Houston was not his first since taking office; last year, Trump visited the Bayou City in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
The Texas rally is part of a large series of campaign appearances made by Trump ahead of the midterm election, in which he travelled across the country in an effort to secure Republican victories.
It is also a part of a larger statewide tour by Cruz and Abbott, both of whom are campaigning for re-election alongside other Republicans
Early voting in Texas continues through November 2. Election day is November 6.