Donald Trump held a campaign rally — also called a MAGA, or “Make American Great Again” rally — in El Paso, Texas, on Monday night, and though Trump covered a wide number of his usual topics, including his prosed border wall, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and trade tariffs, he also seemed especially interested in another issue, as Newsweek noted. Namely, Trump was concerned with the size of the crowd at his El Paso rally and how it compared to the crowd size at a competing rally protesting his visit headlined by former Texas commissional rep. and Senatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke.
O’Rourke has been widely anticipated to become a presidential candidate and possible opponent for Trump in the 2020 presidential election but has not said whether or not he plans to explore a candidacy. Prior to Monday’s rally, he told Politico that he was “back in the mix” — but only on the issue of immigration.
Politico reporter David Siders, however, wrote that the 46-year-old O’Rourke appears to be “tilting toward a run for president,” holding a conference call with reporters before the rally and “tim(ing) his speech to bracket Trump’s appearance, ensuring side-by-side coverage,” both moves typical of a presidential contender.
At his rally held at El Paso County Coliseum, Trump chided O’Rourke, referring to him as “a young man who’s got very little going for himself except he’s got a great first name,” as quoted by Vox reporter Aaron Rupar via Twitter.
Trump then went on to compare the size of his crowd with the size of the crowd at O’Rourke’s rally, though according to official estimates, neither figure he cited was close to being correct.
“He challenged us,” Trump said, referring to O’Rourke, as quoted by NBC News. “So we have let’s, say, 35,000 people tonight. And he has 200 people, 300 people. Not too good.”
The capacity of the El Paso County Coliseum is only 6,500. The city’s fire department estimated another 10,000 attendees watched Trump’s speech on screens outside the arena, according to the El Paso Times. Combining the two, Trump’s total crowd size would have reached roughly 16,500.
Later in his speech, per NBC, Trump downgraded his guess at the size of O’Rourke’s crowd, saying, “[t]hey’ll say ‘Beto O’Rourke’ – that’s his last name, right, O’Rourke? – ‘Beto O’Rourke had a wonderful rally, although about 15 people.'”
According to the Texas Tribune, local law enforcement estimated a crowd size of about 7,000 for the protest rally where O’Rourke spoke — though Bloomberg News reporter Jennifer Epstein said via her Twitter account that police had given her an estimate of “10,000 to 15,000 for the anti-Trump, anti-wall, pro-O’Rourke march and rally.”