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KRLD 1080 - Texas

Wife of Veteran Killed in El Paso Shooting Sues Walmart

October 18, 2019

A wooden cross painted white stands at a makeshift memorial outside a Texas memorial, along with nearly two dozen others. 

Two American flags are taped to this cross, a small angel figure stands, hands together in prayer. Three rosaries hang around the cross and a red rose is threaded through them. 

Written in black on the cross is the name Arturo Benavides. Small notes of love, faith and remembrance are scrawled up and down the cross. 

The cross for Benavides, 60, stands outside a Walmart, near the scene of a mass shooting that left 22 people dead on Aug. 6 in El Paso, Texas

On Friday, Benavides' wife, Patricia, filed a lawsuit against Walmart and the shooter. 

On the morning of the shooting, Patricia and her husband of more than 30 years were running errands at the Walmart on Gateway Boulevard. When they finished shopping, Benavides went to the checkout line to pay, and Patricia left the line to find a place to sit and rest.

Patricia was sitting on a bench a the front of the store when the gunman entered the store and opened fire on customers inside. Patricia was pushed into a stall in a nearby restroom, where she was able to escape. But Benavides, still standing in line with their groceries, was shot and killed. 

Benavides served in the Army and was a staff sergeant in the Texas Army National Guard. He was a "family man" a news release from Patricia's lawyers says, who "cared about his family deeply and would take the time to call them on a weekly basis to see how they were doing." 

The lawsuit claims that Walmart knew about other shootings at its stores in Texas and across the country and "had a duty to have security guards and other security members at its stores to discourage such shootings and to engage any shooter that may attempt to harm employees or customers.

"Although (Walmart has) security guards at some of their stores, the location in El Paso where Mr. Benavides and others were killed did not appear to have any."

Patricia is seeking more than $1 million, the lawsuit says, including medical and funeral expenses. 

Randy Hargrove, the Senior Director of National Media Relations for Walmart, responded to the lawsuit saying “we will never forget this tragic event, and our condolences continue to go out to everyone who was affected. Safety is a top priority and we care deeply about our associates and customers. We will respond as appropriate with the court."

Walmart also filed a cross-claim this week against the shooter, placing full blame on him alone for “a campaign of violence and murder. That loss of life and harm were caused intentionally and solely” by the shooter, the claim reads.

Want to get more connected to the stories and resources Connecting Vets has to offer? Click here to sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Reach Abbie Bennett: abbie@connectingvets.com or @AbbieRBennett.





Author: Anonymous
Posted: October 18, 2019, 8:34 pm
U.S. astronauts Jessica Meir, left, and Christina Koch pose for a photo in the International Space Station


First NASA All-Female Spacewalking Team Makes History

October 18, 2019

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The world's first all-female spacewalking team made history high above Earth on Friday, replacing a broken part of the International Space Station's power grid.

As NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir completed the job with wrenches, screwdrivers and power-grip tools, it marked the first time in a half-century of spacewalking that men weren't part of the action.

America's first female spacewalker from 35 years ago, Kathy Sullivan, was delighted. She said it's good to finally have enough women in the astronaut corps and trained for spacewalking for this to happen.

"We've got qualified women running the control, running space centers, commanding the station, commanding spaceships and doing spacewalks," Sullivan told The Associated Press earlier this week. "And golly, gee whiz, every now and then there's more than one woman in the same place."

NASA leaders, Girl Scouts and others cheered Koch and Meir on. Parents also sent in messages of thanks and encouragement via social media. NASA included some in its TV coverage. "Go girls go," two young sisters wrote on a sign in crayon. A group of middle schoolers held a long sign reading "The sky is not the limit!!"

At the same time, many expressed hope this will become routine in the future.

Tracy Caldwell Dyson, a three-time spacewalker who looked on from Mission Control in Houston, added: "Hopefully, this will now be considered normal."

NASA originally wanted to conduct an all-female spacewalk last spring, but did not have enough medium-size suits ready to go until summer. Koch and Meir were supposed to install more new batteries in a spacewalk next week, but had to venture out three days earlier to deal with an equipment failure that occurred over the weekend. It was the second such failure of a battery charger this year, puzzling engineers and putting a hold on future battery installations for the solar power system.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine watched the big event unfold from Washington headquarters.

"We have the right people doing the right job at the right time," he said. "They are an inspiration to people all over the world including me. And we're very excited to get this mission underway."

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sent congratulations to Koch and Meir "for leaving their mark on history" and tweeted that they're an inspiration to women and girls across America.

The spacewalkers' main job was to replace the faulty 19-year-old old charge-regulating device — the size of a big, bulky box — for one of the three new batteries that was installed last week by Koch and Andrew Morgan. A preliminary check showed everything to be good 250 miles (400 kilometers) up, but several more hours were needed to confirm that.

"Jessica and Christina, we are so proud of you," said Morgan, one of four astronauts inside. He called them his "astrosisters."

Spacewalking is widely considered the most dangerous assignment in orbit. Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, who operated the station's robot arm from inside during Friday's spacewalk, almost drowned in 2013 when his helmet flooded with water from his suit's cooling system.

"Everyone ought to be sending some positive vibes by way of airwaves to space for these two top-notch spacewalkers," Dyson said early in the spacewalk.

Meir, a marine biologist making her spacewalking debut, became the 228th person in the world to conduct a spacewalk and the 15th woman. It was the fourth spacewalk for Koch, an electrical engineer who is seven months into an 11-month mission that will be the longest ever by a woman. Both are members of NASA's Astronaut Class of 2013, the only one equally split between women and men.

Pairing up for a spacewalk was especially meaningful for Koch and Meir; they're close friends. They're also both former Girl Scouts.

It took two decades for women to catch up with men in the spacewalking arena.

The world's first spacewalker on March 18, 1965, Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, died last week. NASA astronaut Ed White became the first U.S. spacewalker less than three months after Leonov's feat. Women did not follow out the hatch until 1984. The first was Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya. Sullivan followed three months later.

Friday's milestone spacewalk was the 421st for team Earth.

Author: Jeff.Burkett
Posted: October 18, 2019, 4:10 pm

Energy Secretary Rick Perry gestures as he arrives on Air Force One with President Donald Trump at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Texas, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Energy Secretary Perry Says He Is Resigning By Year's End

October 17, 2019
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced Thursday that he will leave his job by the end of the year, saying that under President Donald Trump the nation is nearing energy independence.

Perry's long-rumored departure comes as he is under scrutiny over the role he played in the president's dealings with Ukraine, the focus of an ongoing impeachment inquiry.

In a letter to Trump, Perry made no mention of Ukraine and exalted policy successes that have led to increased production and exports of oil and natural gas.

"The U.S. private sector is leading the world in energy production, exploration and exports," Perry said. "Today, when the world looks for energy, they can now think of America first."

Trump said Perry "has done a fantastic job" at Energy, "but it was time" for him to leave.

Perry, 69, a former Texas governor, has been energy secretary since March 2017, making him one of the longest-serving members of Trump's Cabinet, which has seen huge turnover.

He was traveling with Trump to Texas when he notified the president of his decision aboard Air Force One.

Trump told reporters he "knew six months ago" that Perry wanted to leave by the end of the year. "He's got some ideas for doing something else. He's a terrific guy," Trump said.

Trump said he already knows who will succeed Perry, but declined to identify the person.

House Democrats have subpoenaed Perry for documents related to a Ukrainian state-owned energy company as well as his involvement in a July call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The lawmakers set a Friday deadline.

Trump has said Perry teed up the July 25 call, in which Trump pressed Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son, who was employed by a Ukrainian gas company.

A spokeswoman for Perry has said he wanted Trump to speak with the Ukrainian leader on energy matters related to U.S. efforts to boost Western energy ties to Eastern Europe. It is part of a long-term effort to lessen the political control Russia wields through its dominance of the fuel supply.

The Associated Press reported this month that a circle of businessmen and Republican donors touted their connections to Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, as they sought to install new management at the top of Ukraine's state-owned gas company last spring.

The plan hit a snag after Zelinskiy's election, but Perry took up the effort to install a friendlier management team at the company, Naftogaz. Perry attended Zelinskiy's May 2019 inauguration as the administration's senior representative and met privately with Zelinskiy. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Perry had disputed published reports that he was planning to leave the administration. He told a news conference in Lithuania earlier this month: "One of these days they will probably get it right. But it's not today, it's not tomorrow, not next month. Keep saying it and one day you'll be right."

Perry, who twice ran for president before taking the job at Energy, has kept a relatively low-profile in his 2 ½-year tenure. He has supported Trump's call for "energy dominance" around the world and pushed to bolster struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants. He said last year that a rash of coal and nuclear retirements was "alarming" and posed a looming crisis for the nation's power grid.

"If unchecked, (the plant closures) will threaten our ability to recover from intentional attacks and natural disasters," Perry said at a speech in Texas.

Trump, who has frequently promised to bring back coal jobs, directed Perry in June 2018 to take "immediate steps" to bolster struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants to keep them open, calling it a matter of national and economic security.

No definitive action has been taken since then. A regional transmission organization that oversees the power grid in 13 Eastern and Midwestern states said there's no immediate threat to system reliability.

Perry has won plaudits from lawmakers for an easygoing style that reflects a life in politics, and he has frequently distanced himself from severe budget cuts to energy programs sought by the White House. He has toured Energy Department sites around the country, represented the Trump administration at meetings overseas and begun a years-long process to revive a shuttered nuclear waste dump at Nevada's Yucca Mountain.

Before taking the Energy job, Perry had been subjected to widespread ridicule after forgetting the name of an agency he pledged to eliminate as president. That agency was the Energy Department. Despite that, Perry has emerged as a strong defender of the department's work, especially the 17 national labs that conduct cutting-edge research on everything from national security to renewable energy.

"I'm telling you officially the coolest job I've ever had is being secretary of Energy ... and it's because of these labs," Perry told employees at the Idaho National Laboratory in 2017.

Trump denied reports that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott or Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy could replace Perry, but said, "They would both be very good."


Colvin reported from Fort Worth, Texas. Associated Press writer Kevin Freking in Washington contributed to this report.

Author: ap.content
Posted: October 18, 2019, 2:36 am

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Trump, In Texas, Bashes Democrats As 'Crazy,' Unpatriotic

October 17, 2019
The Associated Press

DALLAS (AP) — President Donald Trump tried to turn impeachment rancor into a political rallying cry Thursday, using a Texas rally to bash Democrats as "crazy" and unpatriotic as they push forward with their investigations.

Setting a dire tone, Trump told his supporters, "At stake in this fight is the survival of American democracy itself."

"Don't kid yourselves," he said of the Democrats, "I really don't believe anymore that they love our country."

A day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats walked out of a White House meeting that had devolved into an insult-fest, Trump denounced her as "crazy Nancy."

"She's nuts," he told the crowd at a packed stadium in Dallas.

The comments come as the House continues its quickly unfolding inquiry into Trump's dealings with Ukraine, deposing witness after witness as they build their case. But Trump and his campaign have tried to turn the inquiry his way, accusing Democrats of using the Constitutional process to try to overturn the results of the 2016 election.

"They're coming after and fighting you and we never lose," he said, predicting the 2020 election will be "a landslide" for Republicans, despite polling showing him lagging behind.

Trump also continued his attacks on former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter's work for a Ukraine energy company. Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Biden family are at the heart of the Democrats' inquiry into whether Trump compromised national security and used his office to try to bolster his 2020 chances by pushing foreign governments to investigate one of his Democratic rivals.

Trump's day included a tour of a new Louis Vuitton leather workshop in north central Texas and a fundraiser in Fort Worth that, combined with a pre-rally reception in Dallas, brought in $5.5 million, according to the Republican National Committee.

Texas is a crucial state for Republicans, both in terms of money and votes.

Trump carried the GOP stronghold and its 38 Electoral College votes by 9 points in 2016. But Democrats have pointed to demographic changes — as well as the fact that Republican Sen. Ted Cruz won reelection by less than 3 points last year — as evidence that the second-most-populous state could soon be in play. But Trump rejected that thinking, as he urged his supporters to re-elect Cruz and John Cornyn, the state's other Republican senator.

As he campaigns for a second term, Trump's team has tried to focus attention on economic gains over the last three years, including the low unemployment rate. Pressing that message, Trump cut the ribbon at a new production facility for the luxury brand Louis Vuitton in Alvarado with his elder daughter, Ivanka.

Trump joked that the company, which is known for its logoed handbags and luggage, has cost him "a lot of money over the years." His wife, first lady Melania Trump, has repeatedly been spotted traveling with the brand.

"This workshop will soon employ 500 of the most highly skilled workers anywhere in the world," Trump said. "No one can match the precision and perfection of an American artisan."

The Texas visit comes at a treacherous time for Trump, whose dealings with the president of Ukraine are under fire. While Republicans have largely rallied around him, they sounded alarms over his decision to pull U.S. troops out of northeast Syria — a move that paved the way for Turkey to invade and assault the Kurds, who'd fought alongside the U.S. in its campaign against Islamic State militants.

At his rally, Trump credited his "unconventional" approach for the announcement of a cease-fire Thursday. And he repeatedly painted the Turkish assault on the Kurds as something that had its benefits.

"Sometimes you have to let them fight, like two kids in a lot," he said. "You got to let them fight and then you pull them apart."

Trump's campaign and the RNC have been raking in record money, raising $125 million in the third quarter of 2019 and smashing the just over $70 million former President Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee raised in the third quarter of 2011.

Meanwhile, Trump's would-be challengers are deep in an increasingly contentious race for the Democratic nomination.

One of those candidates, former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, was holding a counter-rally protesting Trump's appearance in nearby Grand Prairie Thursday evening. He did the same when Trump held a rally in El Paso in February and drew a substantial crowd, but his standing in the race has since fallen.

Still, Trump make sure to call him out, pointing to his plan to confiscate assault-style rifles and his support for rescinding the tax-exempt status for churches and charities that are anti-LGBTQ.

"No religion and no guns. I think that's not good," Trump said.


Kevin Freking contributed to this report from Washington.

Author: ap.content
Posted: October 18, 2019, 2:12 am
 Senator John Cornyn

© Jack Gruber-USA TODAY

John Cornyn Says Impeachment Inquiry Is Sucking Oxygen From Congress

October 17, 2019

AUSTIN (KRLD) - On a Wednesday Conference Call with the reporters, Texas Senior Senator John Cornyn kept up the pressure against US House Democrats for what he believes is their prioritizing politics over bi-partisan legislation.

One casualty of this, according to Cornyn is the House’s failure to reauthorize a bill he co-authored with California Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein to reauthorize The Debbie Smith Act; providing funds for testing rape kits.

“That law has now lapsed because the House of Representatives failed to move on it. In my view, that’s been because they’ve been obsessed…literally obsessed with this impeachment-mania. I’m afraid there will be other casualties; for example our efforts to try to reduce prescription drug costs.”

Author: Josh.Clark
Posted: October 17, 2019, 5:09 pm
Blue Bell

Blue Bell

Blue Bell Is Stepping Into Christmas Early

October 17, 2019

DALLAS (KRLD) - Deck the Halls, Blue Bell is bringing back Christmas Cookies ice cream.

All of Santa’s favorite cookies in one bowl! Christmas Cookies is a combination of your favorite holiday cookies – chocolate chip, snickerdoodle and sugar – in a tasty sugar cookie ice cream w/red sprinkles and a green icing swirl throughout. In stores beginning today! pic.twitter.com/zRCq44QAjO

— Blue Bell Ice Cream (@ILoveBlueBell) October 17, 2019

The little creamery in Brenham tweets, "All of Santa’s favorite cookies in one bowl is back in stores today!

The Christmas Cookies ice cream is a combination of chocolate chip, snickerdoodle and sugar cookies in a  sugar cookie ice cream with red sprinkles and a green icing swirled throughout.

Blue Bell says the flavor is available for a limited time. So enjoy!

Author: Josh.Clark
Posted: October 17, 2019, 2:51 pm
Texas Capitol building,


Texas Unveils Latest Plan To Improve Health Care Services

October 17, 2019

AUSTIN (1080 KRLD) - Texas Health and Human Services Wednesday unveiled its inaugural business plan, Blueprint for a Healthy Texas, which spells out specific, measurable initiatives to improve the lives of the millions of Texans who rely on HHS services. 

“This plan reflects our deep commitment to greater transparency, efficiency and accountability to the people we serve and other vital stakeholders,” said Texas HHS Executive Commissioner Dr. Courtney N. Phillips. “Whether it is increasing the number of women accessing prenatal care, making child care safer or reducing call wait times to access services, this plan details our efforts to continually improve, as well as the concrete measures we will use to hold ourselves accountable along the way.” 

As a guide for long-term improvement, the 12 initiatives and 72 goals outlined in the plan focus on how the system’s two agencies—the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the Department of State Health Services—will improve operations, customer service and workplace culture.

Among the initiatives, HHS is working to improve health outcomes for women, mothers and children by enhancing access to long-acting reversible contraception, increasing prenatal and well-child visits, and addressing disparities in breastfeeding and breast cancer.

"Every woman needs access to preventive care and family planning services, including contraception, which is why improving access to long-acting reversible contraception is such an important goal,” said Evelyn Delgado, president and executive director of Healthy Futures of Texas. “HHS’ specific goals toward improving health care for Texas women and children is a positive step, and we look forward to working together to achieve results."

FY 2020 initiatives also address: behavioral health; regulatory health and safety; Medicaid managed care; services and supports; advocacy for people in long-term care; supplemental and directed payment programs; HHS workplace culture and recruitment, procurement and contracting; quality control; and technology and innovation.

To read the plan visit hhs.texas.gov/business-plan.

Author: Jeff.Burkett
Posted: October 17, 2019, 2:48 pm
Texas Capitol building,


Secret Tape Reveals House Speaker Bonnen Targeted Republicans In 2020

October 16, 2019

AUSTIN (KRLD) - After the urging of Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick. Texas GOP Chair James Dickey and final approval from his legal advisors, Empower Texans CEO Michael Quinn Sullivan finally released to the public a secret audio recording of a June 12th meeting at the Texas State Capitol with State House Speaker Dennis Bonnen.

For months Sullivan stuck by his story that Bonnen approached him with an offer that if he and his non-profit organization would help target 10 incumbent moderate Republicans in the upcoming Texas Primary, he would receive coveted press credentials for Empower Texans reporters for the upcoming legislative session in 2021. Sullivan had unsuccessfully been fighting to get those credentials for years. It would give Empower Texans enhanced political exposure.

The 64-minute recording of Sullivan's June meeting with Bonnen released on Tuesday appears to back up Sullivan’s claims.  The audio shows Speaker Bonnen reaching out to Sullivan for help in dealing with the Republican House members that he feels aren’t as conservative as they both would like. “If I still have the same ten moderate Republicans who don't want to help on anything, I'm still unable to do what you and I would want done and then maybe not even more what you would want done, okay? And that's a monumental shift.”

According to the audio, Bonnen went on to spell out how they could work together to target the ten Republicans in the Primary, which would allow Bonnen to save money for the General election in in 2020, “let's not spend millions of dollars fighting in primaries, when we need to spend millions of dollars trying to win in November.”

Bonnen is then caught on tape proposing specifics of an arrangement. “I just wanted to see if we can try and figure that out, and I mean this in a polite way. If you need some primaries to fight in, I will leave and Dustin (House GOP Caucus Chair Dustin Burrows, who was also in the meeting) will tell you some that we would love it if you fought in them -- not that you need our permission – but what I would love to be able to do, candidly, is kind of have -- I don't want to say an agreement -- but kind of an understanding,”

The quid pro quo agreement became evident in the following back and forth:

BONNEN: let me tell you what I'll do for you -- real quick, you need to hear what I want to do for you.

SULLIVAN: I don't need anything done.

BONNEN: Well, no, you do. You do. If we can make this work. I'll put your guys on the floor next session.

“On the floor, next session” refers to Bonnen granting press credentials for the reporters from Empower Texans for the 2021 Legislative Session.

*Full audio can be heard here

After the release of the audio, Speaker Bonnen sent out the following Statement:

"I have repeatedly called for the recording to be released because it will be immediately clear that no laws were broken. This is nothing more than a political discussion – the problem is that I had it with that guy.  My colleagues have always deserved the facts and context this recording provides, and with clear evidence now disproving allegations of criminal wrongdoing, the House can finally move on.”

Author: Josh.Clark
Posted: October 16, 2019, 1:51 pm
Lake, Lake Water,


Petrochemical Plant To Pay $50 Million Fine For Polluting Texas Waters

October 16, 2019

DALLAS (KRLD) - Formosa will pay $50 million to settle a lawsuit that accused them of dumping billions of plastic pellets into Lavaca Bay and Cox Creek near Victoria. It's the largest ever settlement brought by private individuals regarding the Clean Water Act. 

Diane Wilson, executive director of the San Antonio Bay Estuarine Waterkeepers and fourth-generation Texas shrimper says Formosa has been dumping illegally since 1992. She and other citizens have been monitoring for the past four years and collected nearly 2,500 samples of pellets and plastic powders.

"The irony of it was is our main volunteers were former Formosa workers. These were guys that were shift supervisors. They ran the wastewater unit."

Wilson adds,  "I hope this becomes the standard for plastic facilities in the whole country.  Zero discharge because we got zero discharge."

That means if Formosa dumps illegally again, they'll have to pay into a trust that goes to local projects.

The $50 million settlement will be paid out over five years into a fund that will support projects that reverse the damage of water pollution in Texas’s Calhoun County.

According to a press release, some of those projects include:

$20 million for creating a cooperative that will revitalize depleted marine ecosystems and develop sustainable fishing, shrimping and oyster harvesting.

$10 million for environmental development of Green Lake park, the 2nd largest natural lake in Texas, into an environmentally sound public park.

$2 million to control erosion and restore beaches at Magnolia Beach.

$5 million for environmental research of San Antonio and Matagorda bay systems and river deltas that feed into them.

$1 million to support the "Nurdle Patrols" at the University of Texas’s Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve, and to give scholarships to allow persons throughout the Gulf coast to attend Nurdle Patrol conferences.  The Nurdle Patrols are volunteer groups that collect plastic pellets, also known as nurdles, in order to document and research plastic pollution of the Gulf and its shores.

$750,000 to the YMCA for camps for children to study and learn how to be good stewards of the local marine environment.

Author: Josh.Clark
Posted: October 16, 2019, 12:28 pm

Donald Trump, Jr. speaks to supporters of his father, President Donald Trump, during a panel discussion, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Trump Jr. pitches to base while his father fights for Texas

October 15, 2019
The Associated Press

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Two days before President Donald Trump rallies in Texas, his eldest son on Tuesday looked to help him hang onto the reliably Republican state, playing to the conservative base by delivering red meat cultural attacks and lacing into several of his father's possible Democratic foes.

Donald Trump Jr., the swaggering embodiment of the Make America Great Again agenda, was the main event at a campaign event in San Antonio ahead of the president's rally in Dallas on Thursday. Trump Jr. did not shy away from taking on the primary threat to his father's presidency: the impeachment inquiry prompted by the elder Trump's push for Ukraine to investigate Democratic Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

"About the only job (Hunter Biden) could get would be a no-show job at a corrupt Ukrainian oil company because no one would else would hire this clown," said Trump Jr., showing no self-awareness that he, too, has at least in part been successful because of a famous father.

Channeling his father, Trump Jr. complained bitterly about what he deemed was unfair media coverage, declaring: "For 50 years, conservatives have turned the other cheek. I'm done turning the other cheek, guys!"

The one-two punch in Texas this week displays a degree of wariness, drenched in bluster, from the Trump campaign about the Lone Star State. A Republican candidate can't win the White House without Texas' 38 electoral college votes. Trump carried the state by 9 percentage points in 2016, but Democrats have pointed to demographic trends — including increases in college-educated voters, suburban voters and Hispanic voters — as evidence that the second most populous state in the nation could soon be in play. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz won reelection last year by just over 2 points.

In the moments before Trump Jr. launched into his stump speech, his father's campaign manager, Brad Parscale, took a more data-driven approach. Parscale said his team had collected information from the several hundred people packed into a room in San Antonio's convention center, and he urged them to recruit neighbors as volunteers as the operation looks to expand exponentially from its shoestring first run.

"2016 was an airplane being built in the sky and we built the wheels on at just the right time," said Parscale. "This time we are building a fleet."

The Trump campaign has proven to be a fundraising juggernaut, and Parscale touted other lofty statistical goals, including growing the volunteer pool from 600,000 in 2016 to 2 million this time.

As an example of the expanded operation, the campaign has begun having preview events ahead of Trump's rallies. On the eve of Trump's raucous rally in Minneapolis last week, his daughter in-law Lara Trump and second lady Karen Pence held a much quieter "Women for Trump" meeting in St. Paul.

More than 200 women listened to the campaign's pitch, as Pence and Lara Trump sat in armchairs on a small stage. Campaign spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany asked them questions, talk-show style.

Asked what young women should know about the president, Karen Pence said the president "cares about your pocketbook." She continued: "This is a president who cares. When I see the way he engages with women it means a lot to me."

The Texas preview rally was far more raucous in tone, at times resembling an R-rated political roast.

Trump Jr., whose own eventual political aspirations are the subject of growing rumors, has embraced his role as a popular emissary for his father, crisscrossing the country, showcasing his new relationship with former Fox News host Kim Guilfoyle and relishing button-pushing rally appearance and tweets. He riffed on political subjects, poking fun at Biden's recent gaffes and mocking Sen. Elizabeth Warren's claim of Native American heritage. He also took on cultural targets, laughing at Jussie Smollett, the actor who falsely said he was attacked by Trump supporters, and attacking hyper-political correctness, saying, "The amount of new genders multiply by 54 every day and I can't keep track anymore."

Guilfoyle was also greeted as a rock star and acted like a bawdy opening act for her boyfriend, saying she has known the president and his eldest son for 14 years — but stressing, "I know Donald Trump Jr. a little bit better, let's just get out of the way right now."


Additional reporting by Kathleen Hennessey in St. Paul, Minnesota.


Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire

Author: ap.content
Posted: October 16, 2019, 12:57 am