Trump fights for Ted Cruz
What exactly President Donald Trump will say at a podium is never easy to predict. But when he steps to the microphone at Houston’s Toyota Center on Monday night, there is little doubt what his core message will be.
At rallies around the nation for other Republican U.S. Senate and House candidates in midterm elections, Trump has made clear that a vote for candidates such as U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is, in fact, a vote for Trump himself and his agenda.
“I’m not on the ballot, but in a certain way, I’m on the ballot so please go out and vote,” Trump said at a rally earlier this month in Mississippi and since repeated in city after city.
While Trump’s policies continue to energize Democrats against him and other Republicans, the White House is in an all-out push to re-energize the president’s base and get those voters to the polls to match the Democratic energy. That applies even to candidates like Cruz who was a determined enemy of Trump just two years ago, but whom the White House absolutely needs to win re-election to protect the GOP majority in the U.S. Senate.
For subscribers: 2018 Houston Chronicle Voter Guide
For subscribers: 2018 San Antonio Express-News Voter Guide
In Montana just days ago, Trump warned thousands of supporters that if Democrats sweep into power in Congress, all of the “extraordinary progress” he’s made as president is in jeopardy.
“All they want to do is obstruct,” Trump said.
By coming to Texas, Trump will be trying to counter Cruz’s opponent, Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who Thursday again acknowledged in an interview that if he is elected he would vote to impeach the president.
In debates and on the campaign trail, Cruz has made O’Rourke’s stand on impeachment a major talking point. And Trump himself has begun to target O’Rourke. Days after calling O’Rourke a “flake” on Twitter, Trump on Friday launched another attack, calling O’Rourke a “total lightweight” compared to Cruz.
Trump’s speech at the 18,000-seat Toyota Center begins at 6:30 p.m. Doors for the event open at 3:30 p.m. People wanting to attend are required to register beforehand with Trump’s official campaign website: https://www.donaldjtrump.com/.
Trump in some ways is answering a plea from other Republicans in Texas who pushed the White House to focus more on Texas, and on Cruz’s re-election. While Cruz acknowledged he talked to Trump about visiting Texas, it was Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick who traveled to the White House during the summer and made a direct pitch to get Trump to Texas to motivate voters.
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“The trip was about making sure they were focusing on Texas as well as every other state,” said Patrick, Trump’s 2016 Texas campaign chair.
Over the last four weeks, Vice President Mike Pence, the president’s son Donald Trump Jr., and his daughter Ivanka Trump have all been in Texas for events with Cruz.
Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott have both said they will be in Houston for Trump’s rally on Monday.
There are risks in bringing Trump to Houston. In 2016, Trump lost Harris County to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. While Trump could further energize some people on the left, Cruz’s campaign thinks Trump can help in key Republican precincts in Houston.
Although O’Rourke has raised record-shattering amounts of money for his campaign, the Cruz campaign is expressing confidence, and recent polls show Cruz remains ahead in the race.
O’Rourke himself won’t be far from the Toyota Center on Monday as Trump heads to Houston. He has a half dozen “Vote with Beto” events in and around Houston, including stops in Spring, northeast Houston, Pasadena, West Houston and Rosenberg.