O'Rourke counters Trump's border claims in rival El Paso rally

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) on Monday night sought to counter President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE's claims about immigrants and border walls, arguing that his hometown of El Paso is "safe not because of walls but in spite of walls."

In a dueling rally approximately a block away from Trump's own El Paso event, O’Rourke, who’s considering a 2020 White House run, touted the city as one of the safest in America for the past two decades. He claimed that since part of a wall was built, the city was "in fact a little less safe."

“With the eyes of the country upon us, all of you together are going to make our stand in one of the safest cities in the United States of America. Safe not because of walls but in spite of walls,” O’Rourke said. “Secure because we treat one another with dignity and respect, that’s the way we make our communities and country safe.”

O'Rourke didn't say Trump's name, but he repeatedly criticized the president for his depictions of immigrants and said that the voters must "stand for the truth, against lies and hate and ignorance and intolerance."


“A president describes Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals. We have the chance to tell him and the country that they commit crimes at a lower rate than Americans who are born in this country,” O’Rourke said.

Prior to the “Celebration of El Paso” rally, O’Rourke held a one-mile march with thousands of participants and was joined by his successor in Congress, freshman Rep. Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarRep. Veronica Escobar elected to represent freshman class in House leadership Brindisi, Lamb recommended for Armed Services, Transportation Committees House Democrats target Latino vote in Texas MORE (D-Texas).

O’Rourke generated excitement among Democrats nationwide in 2018 after coming within a few points of defeating GOP Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzLawmakers spar over surveillance flight treaty with Russia Senators voice support for Iran protesters but stop short of taking action Prisons chief: FBI investigating whether 'criminal enterprise' played role in Epstein death MORE in deep-red Texas. Shortly after his loss, O’Rourke was floated as a White House candidate but has remained mostly quiet on a potential 2020 run, irking some Democrats.

But last week, the former congressman reemerged and entered the national spotlight during an appearance with Oprah Winfrey. O’Rourke told Winfrey he’s been “thinking” about running for the White House and will make a decision on 2020 before the end of the month.

A standoff between Trump and House Democrats over the president’s demand for $5.7 billion in border wall funding led to a 35-day partial government shutdown, the longest in U.S. history that ended late January.

Meanwhile, not far down the road, Trump held his own rally to drum up support for a border wall, flanked by red and white signs that read “Finish the wall.”

As Trump and O’Rourke held their respective rallies in El Paso, lawmakers in Washington on Monday night said they reached an agreement “in principle” that would prevent a second government shutdown that’ll begin on Saturday.