About 50 people gathered Saturday morning just blocks away from presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke’s three-city kickoff rally, protesting the Democratic candidate’s views on abortion, immigration, Middle East policy and other issues.
Protesters – many of them carrying signs calling O’Rourke a communist and other derogatory terms – said they supported President Trump’s policies. Trump won less than 26 percent of the El Paso vote in his 2016 race against Democrat Hillary Clinton, the worst performance ever by a major party presidential candidate in the county.
The counter-O’Rourke rally was in front of the Plaza Theatre and about two blocks north of the far-better attended O’Rourke rally. Some O’Rourke supporters passed in front of Trump supporters while en route to the candidate’s gathering until El Paso police closed off the roadway.
“We will be proper,” said El Paso GOP Executive Director Roberto Peña. “Allow Beto supporters to pass and stay near because we only have a permit for this area.”
One woman voiced support for the president’s policies, yelling: “Latinas for Trump.” She also told O’Rourke supporters to be ready to lose in 2020.
Occasional bickering occurred when O’Rourke supporters passed, but there wasn’t much discussion between the two groups.
Topics such as building the wall, 2020 election, and fake news were among some of the favorite crowd chants. The most popular signs were in favor of the wall Trump wants to build, separating the United States and Mexico, and pro-life policies.
All supporters said a wall is necessary. Many held “Finish the Wall” signs that were first distributed at the president’s Feb. 11 campaign rally in El Paso.
El Paso native and UTEP graduate Ruben Ochoa, 45, was passionate about his support for Trump.
“I love Trump. Trump has delivered on his promises. I believe in legal immigration, not illegal immigration. My parents here, came here legally and that’s the whole debate about it,” Ochoa said.
Ron Thompson 67, who has been an El Paso resident since 1985 also said building the wall should be a priority.
“I believe we need it. We have an invasion in our southern border. I can’t call it anything less,” he said.
Luis Gutierrez, 19, said he attended the protest to show his support for the Republican Party and that not all of El Paso supports O’Rourke, who ran for U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz and lost statewide. O’Rourke carried El Paso County with 74 percent of the vote.
“I feel like the wall would be an immediate solution to the crisis in the border, but we need to find long-term solutions such as increased security as well,” Gutierrez said.
The 90-minute protest rally ended with Peña leading the crowd in chanting support for Trump and then singing “God Bless America.”
Photos from El Paso Trump supporter protest against Beto O’Rourke presidential campaign