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Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee, will make a major swing through Texas next week, starting with a stop in Dallas Thursday, June 16, followed by campaign fundraising events in Houston and San Antonio on Friday.
Trump’s campaign staff could not be reached for comment Monday, and no detailed itinerary has been posted yet on Trump’s campaign website. Ray Washburnd, vice chairman of the Trump Victory Fund, a political action committee that works closely with the campaign, confirmed the plan with the Dallas Morning News.
Trump’s visit appears to be timed to compete for attention and headlines with the Texas Democratic Convention, a biannual event being staged at the Alamodome, June 16-18.
A Facebook event page Dump Trump San Antonio! already has been created to organize a “PEACEFUL protest” (organizers’ emphasis on PEACEFUL) of Trump’s bid for president. The Southwest Workers Union, 1416 E. Commerce St., will host a planning meeting on Thursday, June 9, at 6 p.m. to coordinate efforts. It’s unknown if Trump’s Texas tour will include public speaking events.
A spokesperson for the Republican Party of Bexar County told the Rivard Report on Monday afternoon that the local party was not yet coordinating the San Antonio visit with Trump’s campaign staff. Local GOP officials, she said, learned of the planned visit via Facebook, “like everyone else.”
The candidate’s remarks about Mexico sending rapists and criminals north across the border, calling for mass expulsions of undocumented workers here illegally, and building a border wall have fueled protests at almost every Trump campaign stop. That’s likely to continue as Trump touches down in South Texas for the second time this primary season, given that San Antonio is now 63% Hispanic, and that population is largely Mexican-American. Trump continues to question the fairness of U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel presiding over a federal fraud lawsuit against Trump University because, the candidate has asserted, the judge is of Mexican descent. Curiel was born in Indiana.
“I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest,” Donald Trump told the Wall Street Journal, referencing his plans to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
Supporters working for the Trump campaign were initially told via a campaign headquarters memo not to discuss Trump University or his widely criticized comments about Judge Curiel, but Trump himself overrode that guidance during a Monday conference call with campaign advisors, according to two participants in the call who spoke with Bloomberg News.
Instead, Trump called on his staff to echo his own concerns about the judge’s impartiality, and to label reporters as “racists” if they pressed the issue of Trump’s criticism of Curiel presiding over the case. Trump instructed his supporters to “go at ’em” if reporters continued to raise the subject.
Trump’s often incendiary campaign pronouncements led one U.S. congressman from the Rio Grande Valley to respond in kind, reflecting the growing coarseness of the campaign even before Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton have been officially nominated by their respective parties.
Brownsville resident U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela Jr. (D-Texas), the son of one of the country’s first Mexican-American federal judges, released an open letter to Trump Monday morning calling out Trump’s “ignorant anti-immigrant opinions.” Vela closed the letter by writing, “Mr. Trump, you’re a racist and you can take your border wall and shove it up your ass.”
Click here to download the letter.
Vela admitted that he doesn’t speak for every American of Mexican descent and agreed with some of Trump’s stances on Veterans Administration reform and taking a more aggressive approach to combat cartel violence. Notwithstanding those shared views, Vela went on to write, “Why any modern-thinking person would ever believe that building a wall along the border of a neighboring country, which is both our ally and one of our largest trading partners, is frankly astounding and asinine.”
There has been no reaction yet from state Democratic Party officials over the timing of Trump’s visit to San Antonio and other Texas cities, which appears to be aimed at generating headlines and media coverage the same week as the Democrats convene here for their state convention.
Top image: Donald Trump arrives to a press conference established in clear sight of the U.S.-Mexico border in Laredo, Texas in July 2015. Photo by Scott Ball.