Top Texas Republicans, including Greg Abbott, Sid Miller spout no-holds-barred rhetoric at MAGA rally

Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton each took a turn on stage at Trump’s Texas MAGA rally Saturday night, declaring in the strongest possible terms their support for the former president and his no-holds-barred brand of politics.

Abbott said some variation of Trump’s name 27 times in a less than six-minute speech, touting his governorship as an extension of the values and policies championed by the 45th president.

When chants to “build the wall” broke out and interrupted Abbott’s speech, he said: “So you want the wall built? I am the only governor in the history of the United States to build a wall on our border,” adding that as the state takes over wall construction, it’s using the same contractors proposed by the Trump administration.

Still, there were scattered boos in the audience amid the general applause as Abbott took the stage.

Trump has endorsed Abbott for reelection in his primary race against former GOP party chair Allen West and former state Sen. Dan Huffines, although the two challengers have been sharply critical of Abbott, especially the governor’s decisions to enact mask mandates and lockdown nonessential businesses early in the pandemic.

With two weeks to go before voting starts in the March 1 primary, the extreme rhetoric at Saturday’s rally is yet another illustration of the political polarization in Texas, and the country, that research has shown to already be at historic levels.

Members of the Legislature throughout the year bemoaned the lack of collegiality in the statehouse, saying the shape of the state’s new laws was frequently dictated by the majority Republicans, rather than collaboration between parties. This contributed to a six-week long walkout of Democrats who attempted to block a voting bill that added restrictions on early and absentee voting, among other provisions.

Texas GOP party chair Matt Rinaldi also spoke at the rally, trumpeting the party’s policy victories last year, saying uncompromising conservatism will be the way of the party going forward.

“The Republican Party of Texas now is no longer that weak and compromising party,” Rinaldi said. “We’re not just going to be a speed bump on the way to communism.”

As the pre-Trump speeches wrapped up, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke was shaming the Texas politicians for embracing “Trump’s hate, divisiveness and lies.”

“We need to forcefully reject their ugly vision for our state,” he wrote, in a fundraising plea.

Patrick denies 2020 election results

Patrick, who runs the Texas Senate, touted his position as Trump’s Texas campaign chair in 2016 and 2020. He said that Trump was the true victor of the 2020 presidential election. This is false; no evidence exists of widespread voter fraud that could have swung the election.

Patrick said Democrats are engaging in a conspiracy to steal America’s freedom, and the only thing standing in their way is Trump and the state of Texas.

“The world looks to one state as its last chance for freedom, and it’s Texas,” Patrick said.

And Paxton asked the crowd to imagine how much better America was a year ago.

Paxton, the state attorney general, alluded to an announcement last year that the FBI was investigating threats against school board members, saying the news “felt like I’m living in Germany in the ‘30s or Communist China.”

Ag Commissioner Miller fires up crowd with ‘2024’ chant

In his appearance onstage, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller told the crowd the 2022 midterms will not be between Republicans and Democrats or between conservatives or socialists, but will rather be “a race between patriots and traitors. It’s that simple.”

Miller also endorsed Trump for re-election as president in 2024, claiming he’s the first statewide elected official in the country to do so. He called on Republican voters to ask their candidates whether they had also endorse Trump for re-election, saying their answers should be used as a litmus test.

The crowd of Trump diehards clearly appreciated Miller, as he drew some of the loudest laughs, cheers and applause so far of the Texas Republicans given turns at the mic before Trump’s speech.

Miller was also among the earliest statewide elected officials to endorse Trump in his unsuccessful 2016 bid for the presidency, and Trump has in turn endorsed Miller for re-election. Two Republicans, Carey Counsil and Rep. James White, are running in the primary against Miller.

Public polling has shown Miller with a significant lead, although there are a large number of voters who remain undecided.

Closing his speech, Miller started a “2024” chant in the crowd. As he doffed his white cowboy hat and left the stage, the chants continued for nearly a minute with the stage empty.

Jeremy Wallace contributed reporting.

[email protected]

Previous SEC spares tech companies fines in bid to bolster remediation
Next Soaring oil prices should keep the rupiah under pressure