Politics

Hundreds gather for Donald Trump rally at Waco airport

Local authorities say they expect about 10,000 people at the rally.

Hundreds gather for Donald Trump rally at Waco airport
Julio Cortez / AP
SMS

The line of hundreds of people started assembling early Saturday in Waco, Texas, at the kickoff to Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign.

Politically, this is a safe space for Trump; he won McLennan County by more than 20 percentage points in 2020, so this location may play a role in what he says on the stump.

Political science expert Pat Flavin of Baylor University told Scrips News he expects it to be grievance politics and red meat issues to excite the base. He’s not coming in Waco to convince anyone who’s on the fence about him.

"These rallies, to be sure, are a form of entertainment, spectacle; his supporters very much enjoy going; there is merchandise all over town for people to buy, from hats and t-shirts; and so it was a successful formula in 2016," said Flavin.

Trump notably suggested—without evidence—on his own social media platform that he would be indicted by a Manhattan grand jury last week. That did not transpire, but he may allude to his own predictions when his rally begins.

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"He'll bring it all up, he even said on Truth Social. He said this is a big one. But yeah, he'll bring it up, and I don't think he will be indicted. I think they'll try everything, but it's a political campaign to smear him and hurt him from the day he walked down that elevator," said Trump supporter Kim Vesecky. 

Legal issues or not, his supporters are still very much excited to be there.

"This is like going to a concert or a Super Bowl party or something. It's just a great way for people that care about our country and want to have fun, and for people to try and make it anything more than that. They're crazy for doing that. We just want to have fun, and they're all good people here just to have a good time," said Vesecky.

Local authorities say they expect over 10,000 people at the rally.

As for political support in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott won’t be in attendance due to scheduling conflicts, his office stated. The governor put himself shoulder to shoulder with Trump in 2020.

It’s also unclear whether Trump loyalists like Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick or State Attorney General Ken Paxton will show up. Patrick and Paxton have been nonresponsive to requests for comment. As for Sen.Ted Cruz, he is not expected at the rally; the only confirmed "yes" is from a freshman Houston Republican Congressman named Wes Hunt.

The other proverbial elephant in the room is: Why Waco? Why the city associated with a fatal standoff between the Branch Davidian cult and federal agents 30 years ago?

The Houston Chronicle, one of the biggest papers of daily record in the state, took notice. Its editorial board said this was a nod to conspiracy theorists and the anti-government movement.  

However, Trump’s campaign told the Associated Press the decision to hold the event at Waco Regional Airport had nothing to do with the Waco siege or anniversary but was made because the city is "conveniently situated near four of the state’s biggest metropolitan areas — Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio."