DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Supporters of President Donald Trump started lining up outside the American Airlines Center in Dallas as early as Tuesday, two days before his “Keep America Great” rally.
The AAC is preparing for 20,000 supporters inside Thursday evening.
Steve Burns drove to Dallas from Joaquin, Texas, east of Nacogdoches in an old convertible Cadillac fitted with multiple Trump flags and stickers.
“First rally ever, yeah, so I’m jacked up. I can’t wait,” he said.
Richard Snowden of Las Vegas is first in line to get into President Trump’s rally and says he’s traveled across the country to see him.
“This is my 57th. We give back to him the love and the support contrasted with all the negative attacks made on him by his enemies,” said Snowden.
Before the evening rally, the President will hold a fundraising luncheon in downtown Fort Worth, then attend a ribbon-cutting in Keene in Johnson County for the manufacturing plant of Louis Vuitton, an upscale line of women’s handbags, luggage and other accessories.
The Trump campaign says since the President entered office, Texas has created about 775,000 new jobs as unemployment levels have hit record lows.
The Democratic presidential candidates have sharply criticized the President’s policies, and on Thursday afternoon, the Texas Democratic Party will hold a news conference to highlight their beliefs.
Democratic Party leaders say they believe the Lone Star State will be up for grabs in 2020.
President Trump was asked about that in Houston last month, and he said, “No, I don’t think it is for us. But still you can’t take anything for granted.”
The President said the only way he’d lose is if supporters become complacent and stay home.
“I don’t see how I could possibly lose Texas. They want border security. They want to protect their Second Amendment. They want a lot of things that I stand for.”
SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson says the President maintains an advantage in Texas.
“I think President Trump is right the Texas isn’t in play. Trump won by nine in 2016. I think he wins by five in 2020, unless he really has the bottom fall out of his campaign,” said Jillson.
But he says Texas will be in play in future election cycles, and that Democrats will continue to make inroads in Texas as they did last year.
“We saw the Democrats win two Texas Republican-held House seats and 12 Texas House seats. So Trump knows he’s going to have to work hard to turn out his base because his base isn’t as solid as it was for previous Republican Presidents.”
Rachel Hassenteufel of Plano is turning out for the President, and was among the first to arrive.
“I’m all in. I’m supporting Trump. I think it says a lot and speaks a lot to his following that we’re willing to sit out all night and support him and be here for him,” he said.
”When I heard he was coming here, I was determined to get up front,” said Angelo Susini, who lives in Arlington.
This is the president’s sixth visit to Texas, this year alone.
“So for him it’s wanting to be around the American people, but we’re confident Texas is a Trump state,” said Kayleigh McEnany, National Press Secretary for the Trump campaign.
There will be a big party outside the American Airlines Center Thursday. ”45 Fest” kicks off at 10:30 a.m. and the rally starts at 7:00 p.m.
The streets right around the AAC will be shut down, so people may see traffic delays.
— Dallas Police Dept (@DallasPD) October 16, 2019
“The traffic you’ll see beforehand won’t be because of that,” McEnany said. “It will be due to the tens of thousands of people trying to get into this venue.“
DART trains will be running on schedule, but road closures could cause bus delays.
The Trinity Railway Express will also have an additional train to Fort Worth leaving Victory Station between 9:45 and 10:00 p.m.
Caroline Vandergriff contributed to this report.