EL PASO, Texas (Reuters) – Potential White House hopeful Beto O’Rourke accused Donald Trump of fear-mongering on Monday and the Republican president mocked the Democrat as a “young man who lost” in dueling rallies that could preview the tenor of the 2020 election campaign.
Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic former Texas congressman, addresses supporters before an anti-Trump march in El Paso, Texas, U.S., February 11, 2019. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
O’Rourke, who narrowly lost his 2018 bid for a U.S. Senate seat, accused Trump of stoking “false fear” about immigrants and telling “lies” about his hometown El Paso, which Trump said was a dangerous place before it had a border fence.
“We stand for America and we stand against a wall,” O’Rourke told a crowd of several thousand supporters, many waving “Beto 2020” signs and wearing “Immigrants Make America Great” baseball caps. “Walls do not save lives, they end lives.”
Two hundred yards away in El Paso County Coliseum, Trump told his supporters that O’Rourke had “little going for himself, although he’s got a great first name.”
“We are all challenged by a young man who lost an election to (Republican Senator) Ted Cruz,” said Trump.
He said that O’Rourke’s rally was smaller than his, and that was a bad sign: “That may be the end of his presidential bid.”
Reuters could not verify Trump’s claim that 35,000 people attended his rally, with about 10,000 inside. The city’s fire department allowed only the capacity 6,500 inside, the El Paso Times reported. Police estimated between 10,000 and 15,000 attended the O’Rourke march and rally, the newspaper said.
As the two men spoke, U.S. congressional negotiators said they had reached a tentative deal to try to avert another partial government shutdown. Aides said it did not contain the $5.7 billion Trump wanted for his wall that triggered the shutdown last month.
Trump made clear on Monday he would not drop the demand for a border wall that delights his followers, first made in his campaign in the 2016 election. Giant banners at his rally read “Finish The Wall.”
National polls show the wall is not popular with the majority of voters. A Reuters/IPSOS survey found 43 percent of the U.S. public supported additional border fencing.
Trump said he had heard about a possible deal in Washington before he took the stage, but added: “Just so you know – we’re building the wall anyway. Maybe progress has been made – maybe not.”
“BUILD THE WALL”
It was Trump’s first direct clash with a potential 2020 rival, albeit on separate stages.
O’Rourke relished the prime-time national platform, sometimes breaking into Spanish, in what sounded like a campaign speech. He decried the Trump administration’s separation of immigrant children from their parents at the border.
He said Dreamers – undocumented people brought to the United States by their parents when they were children – should be given citizenship, and their parents a pathway to citizenship.
“With a president who describes Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals, we have a chance to tell him and the country that immigrants commit crime at a lower rate than Americans who are born in this country,” he said to shouts of “Beto, Beto.”
Trump was pressing his case on immigration in the Democratic bastion of El Paso county, where the population is over 80 percent Hispanic.
“I will never sign a bill that forces the mass release of violent criminals into our country,” he said, referring to a Democratic proposal in the Washington talks to lower the cap on detentions of criminal aliens by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Under Monday’s tentative agreement, the cap would likely stay around the same as in previous years, a congressional aide said.
Although O’Rourke’s full-throated denunciation of the president sounded like he planned to run against Trump, the two-time congressman declined to discuss a potential bid when asked by reporters on a conference call on Monday.
O’Rourke told Oprah Winfrey last week he would make a final decision about running for president by the end of the month.
Reporting by Tim Reid in El Paso, additional reporting by Steve Holland and Tim Ahmann in Washington; Writing by Andrew Hay; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Bill Tarrant and Sonya Hepinstall
Hillary Clinton slams Trump’s national emergency declaration in tweet
Hillary Clinton took to Twitter on Monday to slam President Trump for declaring a national emergency along the United States southern border.
In her tweet, the former secretary of state said the “real national emergencies” were “Relentless gun violence. Children separated from their families at the border. Climate change” and “Americans dying for lack of health care.”
Clinton, who lost to Trump in the 2016 presidential race, has been one of his harshest critics since his election. On Instagram on Monday, she appeared to troll Trump by posting a photo of the three living former Democratic presidents – Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama and, her husband, Bill Clinton – as well former First Lady Michelle Obama alongside the message “Happy Presidents Day.”
Clinton’s national emergency tweet follows Trump declaring a national emergency Friday to shift billions of federal dollars earmarked for military construction to the border after lawmakers in both parties blocked his request for billions of dollars to fulfill his signature campaign pledge for a border wall.
Democrats are planning to introduce a resolution disapproving of the declaration once Congress returns to session and it is likely to pass both chambers. Several Republican senators are already indicating they would vote against Trump — though there do not yet appear to be enough votes to override a veto by the president.
White House senior adviser Stephen Miller told “Fox News Sunday” that “the president is going to protect his national emergency declaration.” Asked if that meant Trump was ready to veto a resolution of disapproval, Miller added, “He’s going to protect his national emergency declaration, guaranteed.”
Miller insisted that Congress granted the president wide berth under the National Emergencies Act to take action. But Trump’s declaration goes beyond previous emergencies in shifting money after Congress blocked his funding request for the wall, which will likely factor in legal challenges.
Trump aides acknowledge that Trump cannot meet his pledge to build the wall by the time voters decide whether to grant him another term next year, but insist his base will remain by his side as long as he is not perceived to have given up the fight on the barrier.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Presidents Day protests decry Trump’s emergency declaration
CHICAGO (Reuters) – Activists in Washington, Chicago and dozens of other U.S. cities protested on Monday’s Presidents Day holiday against President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to secure funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.
A woman holds a sign during a demonstration against U.S. President Donald Trump on President’s Day near the White House in Washington, U.S., February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Calling Trump’s declaration an abuse of power and usurpation of Congress, organizers with the nonprofit advocacy group MoveOn.org and other participants said it was important to let the outrage over the move be heard.
“We disagree with the state of emergency declared by the president and stand with our immigrant colleagues and friends,” said Darcy Regan, executive director of Indivisible Chicago, which co-hosted the protest there.
Trump invoked the emergency powers on Friday after Congress declined to fulfill his request for $5.7 billion to help build the wall that was his signature 2016 campaign promise. His move aims to let him spend money appropriated by Congress for other purposes.
The Republican president says a wall is needed to curb illegal immigrants and illicit drugs coming across the border. Democrats and opponents of the wall say it is unnecessary.
The protests in Chicago and Washington each drew a few hundred people on Monday afternoon.
Protesters gathered in Chicago’s Federal Plaza carried signs that read “Dump Trump” and “Fake Emergency” and chanted “No wall, no fear, immigrants are welcome here.”
Cheryl Krugel-Lee, a 32-year-old student, said she brought her 4-year-old daughter to the protest in freezing weather to set an example for her.
“This was a power grab by the Trump administration, and it’s immoral and illegal,” Krugel-Lee said.
Organizers said 250 events were planned, including in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Democrats have vowed to challenge the national emergency declaration as a violation of the U.S. Constitution. California state Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in television interviews that his state and others would sue the Trump administration on Monday.
Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Dan Grebler
Cory Booker calls warnings about Green New Deal price tag a ‘lie’
“This is the lie that’s going on right now,” Booker told Fox News in Nashua, N.H., as he campaigned in the first-in-the-nation primary state.
The New Jersey senator was asked about the costs of the Green New Deal, which is supported by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives and aims to implement a range of big-government programs while pursuing a level of “net-zero greenhouse gas emissions” — essentially, a total economic transformation toward clean energy that, among other points, includes building upgrades across the country.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported it cost nearly $2,000 per apartment for the New York City Housing Authority to switch to LED lighting, which lasts longer and consumes less energy than incandescent bulbs. Asked about that report, Booker said it’s possible to “revive your economy, and create a bold green future,” citing his experience as mayor of Newark, N.J.
“We environmentally retrofitted our buildings. Saves taxpayers money, created jobs for our community and lowered our carbon footprint,” Booker said.
He added, “This lie that’s being put out – that somehow being green and responsible with the environment means you have to hurt the economy – a lie.”
The Green New Deal is a sweeping proposal designed to tackle income inequality and climate change at the same time. It’s modeled after President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal package of public works programs and projects created to help the economy during the Great Depression — but in many ways goes much further.
The rollout itself was muddled by the release of Ocasio-Cortez documents that, among other things, promised economic security even for those “unwilling” to work.
The plan itself aims to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing and agriculture and dramatically expand energy sources to meet 100 percent of power demand through renewable sources. The proposal also calls for a job-guarantee program and universal health care, among other things.
Republican critics have vehemently pushed back against the proposal, pointing in part to the price tag – estimated to be about $7 trillion. Republicans have also decried the job guarantee idea, calling it a “deeply flawed policy” that would be detrimental to small businesses.
Fox News’ Kaitlyn Schallhorn contributed to this report.
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