President Trump held his first political rally of his 2024 campaign in Waco, Texas at the Waco Regional Airport this past weekend. [Video here, transcript here] I have attended over a dozen Trump events and his speech covered many of his regular talking points. However, it also debuted some new second-term policy proposals, such as baby bonuses and building new cities.
This Waco rally was similar to many of his other airport rallies. It was very heavily attended, with most vehicles sporting Texas plates, although I did see a plate from Georgia. But still, many had traveled many hours to attend (this is Texas). There was a lot of walking to get to the venue—a mile and a half in my case. But rally attendees do get to see his plane land and take off.
The atmosphere was different from Trump rallies when he was President. The biggest difference that I noticed: the lack of protesters. This could be because of the rally was located in a county that gave over 60% of its vote to Trump in 2020, or because the left and their proxy groups have gotten lazier during the Biden regime.
The crowd at the rally was largely white and had many attendees sporting cowboy hats and Western apparel. However, as with all Trump rallies, there is a contingent of black, Hispanic and Asian attendees.
Still, it does seem that President Trump may be recognizing the demographics of his base: “A lot of us come from Europe; directly and indirectly—so we love Europe.” With American becoming increasingly less white, it could be that a candidate openly courting the white vote will become more politically feasible.
President Trump’s biggest applause lines came from his comments criticizing the left’s gender ideology, Critical Race Theory and of course illegal immigration. Immigration and “Woke” issues continue to be the base’s biggest concerns and that is evident listening to what the audience cheers for the most. Significantly, Trump’s comments on the border always get more excitement than his Social Security remarks.
In his Waco speech, President Trump did repeat his new deportation proposal. “We would use all necessary state, federal and local resources to carry out the law—the largest domestic deportation operation in history.” “Eisenhower did, so we don’t need to feel bad.” He also spoke about the Remain in Mexico policy and other measures to secure the border.
But he did not speak about legal immigration or offer any proposals to limit or cut legal immigration numbers. If President Trump wants to outflank any potential primary rival from the right, he will need to address legal immigration just as much as illegal. The legal immigration issue remains ripe for the picking for any candidate and could allow a candidate to stand out among a crowded primary field.
Trump versus DeSantis
In his speech Trump was not coy in his remarks criticizing DeSantis. He blasted DeSantis as disloyal for not endorsing his 2024 run. Trump told the story of how he endorsed DeSantis when he was low in the GOP primary polls for governor back in 2018. Trump also criticized DeSantis for his votes on Social Security and Medicare and called him a “disciple of Paul Ryan.”
As the 2024 race heats up, the issue of immigration will become more salient and any candidate who takes the leadership on it will stand a very good chance at winning the nomination. Republican voters want a fighter and someone who will secure the border and fight against the Woke Left.
Email Robert Dierks.