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With Impeachment Inquiry Looming, Trump Comes To Texas, Rips Into Democrats

President Trump wrapped up a campaign rally at the American Airlines Center in Dallas with a bellicose verbal barrage against the Democrats leading an impeachment inquiry against him. It was the last of three stops in a whirlwind North Texas tour Thursday.

The president described House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her party as "crazy" for pursuing the impeachment inquiry, telling the crowd, "I really don’t believe anymore that they love our country."

He wasn't any kinder to the Democrats vying to face him in next year's election, taking swipes at former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke, who mounted a counter-rally 15 miles away.

Trump predicted a landslide victory for Republicans in 2020.

Outside The American Airlines Center

Hours before the president's rally, thousands of people from across the country stood in blocks-long lines leading to the American Airlines Center.

Debbie Albrecht and Scott McCreight got tickets to the event last week, but didn't decide to attend until Thursday. Albrecht said she wants see the president's enthusiasm in person. 

"I’m impressed with him and the way he is helping to secure our borders and to turn our economy around," she said, "and that he’s trying to save our Second Amendment rights."

Debbie Albrecht and Scott McCreight
Credit Stella M. Chávez / KERA News
Debbie Albrecht and Scott McCreight came from Plano for the rally.

Albrecht said they were told that the tickets did not guarantee them seats and that the first 20,000 people in line would get into the arena.

Vendor Mia Blanco came in from Illinois; her company has assigned her to follow the president from rally to rally.  

Vendor Mia Blanco tells KERA's Stella M. Chávez about following the Trump campaign.

Johnathan Hale had a shorter trip -- he lives in Euless. Hale said he had a career in the military and supports what the president has done with veterans’ health care and in pulling troops out of Syria.

“It’s time to start pulling back and let everybody else do their weight," Hale said. “I’m not mad about it. Endless wars, it’s about time to stop doing those."

Johnathan Hale is wearing a Trump 2020 shirt and Make America Great Again hat
Credit Stella M. Chávez / KERA News
Johnathan Hale said he has the opportunity to express his political opinion now that he's out of the military.

While the president was flying to Texas, Vice President Mike Pence announced that Turkey has agreed to a ceasefire in Syria. When Trump landed at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, he told CNN the ceasefire is an "incredible outcome" that saved lives.

That didn't sit well with protesters who demonstrated near the arena.

One person outside the American Airlines Center was taken into custody. Police detained a man who was wearing body armor and had a gun. They said the man had a license for the gun, and was transported to a local hospital for evaluation. No one was hurt or injured.

The O'Rourke Counter-Rally

Beto O'Rourke addresses the crowd
Credit Lauren Rangel / KERA News
Former Congressman Beto O'Rourke addresses the crowd at his Rally Against Fear held during President Trump's campaign rally in Dallas

Fifteen miles to the west, one of the Democrats trying to unseat President Trump held a counter-rally. Former Congressman Beto O'Rourke staged the event at The Theatre in Grand Prairie.

After a parade of bands and Democratic candidates for other offices, O'Rourke talked about issues from climate change to LGBTQ rights. He focused on how polarized Americans politics have become. He said given the challenges Americans face, he understands why people are afraid.

But, he said, "This country was not built on fear. America was built on courage."

A number of the Democrats challenging U.S. Sen. John Cornyn next year spoke at O'Rourke's event, including state Sen. Royce West of Dallas, M.J. Hegar and Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez. Cornyn, meanwhile, introduced President Trump at his rally in Dallas. 

Earlier in the day, Trump spoke about jobs at a new Louis Vuitton manufacturing center near Keene, 30 miles south of Fort Worth. The project promises 1,000 jobs, but drew controversy because of the 10 years of tax breaks the luxury brand received.

Polls show Trump has been struggling in Texas, a traditionally Republican state. According to the Houston Chronicle, this was his 12th visit to Texas since taking office.

KERA News Interns Caroline Cluiss and Lauren Rangel contributed to this report.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.