FORT WORTH (CBSFW.COM) – GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump held what his campaign called a “mega-rally” at the Fort Convention Center Friday, At a news briefing prior to the rally, Trump received an endorsement from his former rival Chris Christie. Christie says he made the decision to back Trump Thursday night.
In remarks in front of reporters, Christie referred to Senator Marco Rubio as a member of the D.C. establishment and said that his attacks on Trump were “desperate.” He said Rubio was “in the last days of a losing campaign.”
Christie said, “I have absolute confidence that he [Trump] can get in there and fix the problem that plagues America.” Christie said Donald Trump is best way for Republicans to beat Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.
When the Trump rally actually got underway Christie introduced the billionaire saying, “America must have a strong leader again, that can restore American jobs, that can restore American confidence and Donald Trump is just the man to do it. America needs someone who’s going to make sure that Hillary Clinton doesn’t get within 10 miles of the White House. Donald Trump can do it.”
Before his rally in Fort Worth, Trump said he feels like he has a real shot to win Texas. Once he took the stage he said, “In Texas they just came out with a poll that we’re effectively tied — the Emerson Poll. And I have so many friends in Texas. We are loaded up with friends in Texas and I think we’re gonna surprise a lot of people.”
After bouncing around briefly on a number of topics, he continued to respond to attacks from Senator Rubio. At one point he referred to Rubio as a liar and a lightweight who doesn’t have temperament to be President. “I’ve never seen a man sweat so much.” said Trump. “You ought to see him backstage, he was putting on makeup with a trowel. I don’t want to say that. I will not say that he was trying to cover up his ears.”
He said Rubio has abandoned Florida as Senator and that he defrauded his state.
Trump was asked about his taxes. He said that he was being unfairly audited and has been for the last twelve years. He said after the audit is complete that he would release his taxes.
A spokesperson for the Trump campaign said the convention center has space for about 8,000 people and there were hundreds lined up hours before the noon start time. Many came holding signs and wearing shirts supporting Trump. Some people even said they skipped work to attend the rally.
It was just last night that Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Rubio doubled down on their assault of Trump during the GOP presidential debate. After the event Trump said, “I’ve dealt with tougher,” and said he knew the attacks were coming because “they’re desperate. They’re losing by massive amounts.”
While much of the rhetoric was aimed at Trump he fired back fiercely and crowds Friday said they hope that energy will carry over to the afternoon rally.
Supporter L.S. Mayhan was clear about why he was there. “I’m here to support Mr. Trump. He’s our best bet to save America.”
Cecile Johnson was at the rally to get more information. He said, “One thing that I really hopes he addresses is what he’s gonna do with the lobbyists. They’re the ones that are ruining our country. They’re buying off all the politicians.”
There are 11 states voting on Super Tuesday, with 595 delegates at stake. Trump is seen as having momentum after three straight victories.
The New York billionaire exercised bragging rights with his trademark gusto after the Nevada victory. Relaxed on stage at Virginia’s Regent University, Trump fielded questions from Christian conservative figure Pat Robertson, ticking off Obama administration executive orders he wants to reverse as president and joking about his recent dustup with the pope.
He said earlier he might tone down his contentious rhetoric if he makes it to the White House — or not, since “right now it seems to be working pretty well.”
Also at the Trump rally today were elected officials and candidates in Tarrant County, who protested what they call Trump’s “message of hate and division.”
Toward the end of his speech Trump said the American dream is dead but that he has had tremendous support from the Evangelicals and Christians. At that point he called Robert Jeffress, the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, onto the stage.
At the podium the pastor said Trump sincerely ‘loves this country and wants to make America great again.’ Then he said, “He is truly pro-life. I have talked to him at Trump Towers, he believes in protecting the unborn [and] that is an issue we as Christians care about.”
Trump said he was “going to work like hell” for his administration to have the strongest Christian lobby seen in Washington in a long time.
(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)