Former President Donald Trump kicked off his 2024 presidential campaign tour Saturday evening with his first rally in the friendly confines of GOP-friendly Waco, Texas. Throngs of Texans filled the tarmac at the Waco Regional Airport to hear Trump’s usual talking points which include boasting his past achievements and bashing Democrats.
Trump has filled venues across the country over the last seven years while campaigning. During his speeches, he usually identifies top Republicans who have been in his corner. Saturday night wasn’t much different, other than he left out perhaps two of the most powerful Texas political figures out there today.
The former president recognized many Texan politicians, and some non-Texans in attendance. Two glaring omissions were recently reelected Governor Greg Abbott and two-term Senator Ted Cruz, who’s already declared for reelection in 2024. Both have been Trump allies in the last several years but a new wave of supporters for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has emerged.
DeSantis is expected to challenge Trump in the Republican primary next year, although DeSantis has yet to publicly state he’ll run for the White House. Neither Cruz nor Abbott have publicly said they would back DeSantis yet. Their silence is just as loud as Trump’s refusal to thank them at his kickoff rally in the Lone Star State.
Trump on Saturday afternoon thanked Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the state’s Attorney General Ken Paxton for their endorsements as well as a handful of U.S. Representatives from both Texas and afar – like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz, who were both in attendance in Waco. Trump said that if an elected official had not endorsed him, then they shouldn’t even bother showing up at his rally.
“By the way, these are all people that have endorsed me, because if they didn’t endorse me, I say don’t even come,” Trump said. “I have a few who said “sir, I love you. We’re going to endorse you down the road.” I said that’s okay. Don’t bother coming. These people endorsed me.”
Newsweek reached out to the offices of Cruz and Abbott by email for comment.
Abbott last year won reelection by defeating Beto O’Rourke. Cruz won his second term to the Senate by defeating O’Rourke in the 2018 midterm election and later co-authored a proposed bill that would limit senators to two terms. Cruz recently stated he would seek a third term.
Trump’s private plane dubbed as “Trump Force One” pulled into the Waco airport after doing a flyover prior to the aircraft pulling near the stage. He departed the plane and entered the stage to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” song, which is Trump’s usual entry song at a rally.
Trump praised “hardworking” Texans and its lieutenant governor. He expressed “sadness” for victims of Friday night’s tornadoes in Mississippi and Alabama and moved toward bashing President Joe Biden and other Democrats.
“For seven years, you and I have been taking on the corrupt rotten and sinister forces trying to destroy America and they’ve been trying to destroy. They’re not going to do it,” Trump said. “But they do get closer and closer with rigged elections. They get closer and closer. We’ve been the ones in this fight standing up to the globalists and standing up to the Marxists and communists. That’s what they are. We don’t even talk about the socialists anymore. That train left that station a long time ago.”
During one part of his speech, Trump said Republicans must get tougher, and he singled out Marjorie Taylor Greene and asked if she would run for Senate from the state of Georgia. He quickly followed it by saying he’d “fight like hell for you.” Taylor Greene responded on Twitter, saying “Republicans do have to get tougher — I agree, Mr. President!!”