Texas’ top Republicans spout no-holds-barred rhetoric at MAGA rally

Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton each spoke at Trump’s Texas MAGA rally on Saturday night, declaring in the strongest possible terms their support for the former president and his brand without limits. politics.

Abbott said a variation of Trump’s name 27 times in a speech lasting less than six minutes, touting his governorship as an extension of the values ​​and policies championed by the 45th president.

When chants to “build the wall” broke out and interrupted Abbott’s speech, he said, “So you want the wall built? I am the only governor in the history of the United States to have built a wall on our border,” adding that when the state takes over the construction of the wall, it uses the same contractors offered by the Trump administration. .

Still, there were scattered boos from the audience amid general applause as Abbott took the stage.

Trump endorsed Abbott’s re-election in his primary race against former GOP party chairman Allen West and former state senator Dan Huffines, though both challengers sharply criticized Abbott, particularly the governor’s decisions to enact mask mandates and lock down non-essential businesses early in the pandemic.

With two weeks to go until voting begins in the March 1 primary, the extreme rhetoric of Saturday’s rally is another illustration of political polarization in Texas and across the country, which research has already shown is reaching historic levels. .

Members of the Legislature throughout the year lamented the lack of collegiality in the statehouse, saying the shape of new state laws was frequently dictated by the Republican majority, rather than through inter-party collaboration. That contributed to a six-week strike by Democrats who tried to block a voting bill that added restrictions on early and mail-in voting, among other provisions.

Texas GOP Chairman Matt Rinaldi also spoke at the rally, trumpeting the party’s political victories over the past year, saying uncompromising conservatism will be the way forward for the party.

“The Republican Party of Texas is no longer that weak, compromising party,” Rinaldi said. “We’re not just going to be a speed bump on the road to communism.”

As the pre-Trump speeches wrapped up, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke shamed Texas politicians for embracing “Trump’s hate, division and lies.”

“We must forcefully reject their ugly vision of our state,” he wrote in a fundraising appeal.

Patrick denies 2020 election results

Patrick, who leads the Texas Senate, touted his position as Trump’s campaign chairman in Texas in 2016 and 2020. He said Trump was the real winner of the 2020 presidential election. That’s wrong; there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could have swayed the election.

Patrick said the Democrats were in a plot to steal America’s freedom, and the only thing standing in their way was Trump and the state of Texas.

“The world sees one state as its last chance for freedom, and that’s Texas,” Patrick said.

And Paxton asked the crowd to imagine how much better America was a year ago.

Paxton, the state’s attorney general, alluded to an announcement last year that the FBI was investigating threats against school board members, saying the news “felt like living in Germany in the 1930s or in communist China”.

Farm commissioner Miller ignites the crowd with the chant “2024”

Appearing on stage, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller told the crowd that the 2022 midterms will not be between Republicans and Democrats or between Conservatives and Socialists, but rather will be “a race between patriots and traitors. “. It’s so easy.”

Miller also endorsed Trump’s re-election as president in 2024, saying he is the first statewide elected official in the country to do so. He called on Republican voters to ask their candidates if they also endorsed Trump’s re-election, saying their answers should be used as a litmus test.

The Trump diehard crowd clearly enjoyed Miller, as he drew some of the loudest laughs, cheers and applause yet from Texas Republicans taking turns at the microphone before Trump’s speech.

Miller was also among the first elected officials in the state to endorse Trump in his unsuccessful bid for president in 2016, and Trump in turn endorsed Miller for re-election. Two Republicans, Carey Counsil and Rep. James White, are running in the primary against Miller.

Public polls showed Miller with a significant lead, although there are a large number of voters who remain undecided.

Closing his speech, Miller launched a “2024” chant into the crowd. As he removed his white cowboy hat and left the stage, the chanting continued for almost a minute with the stage empty.

Jeremy Wallace contributed reporting.

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