WACO, Texas — Former President Donald Trump arrived in Waco before 6 p.m. to address the thousands of supporters who showed up early Saturday morning at the Waco Regional Airport for his first 2024 presidential campaign stop.
Attendees started arriving before 7 a.m. for the rally with gates opening at noon.
While people waited for Trump, some of his supporters required medical assistance due to fainting and dehydration, according to 6 News crews.
The event started at 2 p.m. and kicked off with a prayer, followed by Ted Nugent's performance of the "Star Spangled Banner."
After, several people spoke including, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, "My Pillow Guy" Michael J. Lindell, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Texas Rep. Mayra Flores, Texas' Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and Texas Rep. Roger Williams.
Despite being scheduled for a 5 p.m. arrival, Trump showed up at 5:40 p.m. and started speaking around 6 p.m.
Regarding Texas issues, Trump mentioned that he supports Texas farmers, as well as the ranchers who live along the southern border. He told the crowd he planned on "strengthening" the border by expanding the wall that he had built along the border during his first term as president.
He also said he would re-institute Title 42 and bring back the "remain in Mexico" policy he implemented during his first term. (Title 42 began under the Trump administration in 2020 in an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Because the current order is tied to the pandemic declaration, it can't continue beyond May 11.)
During his speech, Trump also repeatedly went after President Joe Biden regarding the state of the economy, as well as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis with claims that Trump would be a better choice for the Republican presidential candidacy.
Trump also addressed the investigations and probes toward him regarding legal issues he is facing, saying it's a "witch hunt" and is -- without evidence -- a politically motivated effort.
Currently, the former president is facing a possible indictment over how he reportedly paid hush money to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. Other investigations include finding classified documents at his Mar-A-Lago home in Florida following his presidency, as well as his reported involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots and reported attempts at stealing the 2020 presidential election.
“They’re not coming after me, they’re coming after you and I'm just standing in their way. Eventually, I won't have to stand in their way because in 2024 we will have the biggest victory of them all," he said.
Trump did mention how he believed the 2020 election was rigged during his speech, a claim he has continuously made following the election results. He said he received more votes than any sitting president in history when in actuality, 6 million more Americans voted for Biden.
Still, Trump promised his supporters that if he is re-elected president in 2024, he will aim to only allow voters to cast their votes in person, by paper on "one day" (Election Day).
Trump also mentioned how he had a "good relationship" with Russian President Vladimir Putin and even praised him as "smart." Because of this, Trump said he "pledge[s] to end the war in Ukraine."
"When I say that, I plan to end it quickly," he said. He continued that he will have the war in Ukraine "settled within 24 hours."
Trump also promised a number of things, including the following:
- Implement a plan to phase-out Chinese imports and essential goods in four years
- Hold China accountable for reports of the coronavirus originating there
- Sign an executive order "immediately" to withhold federal funding to schools that "push[ing] critical race theory, 'trangenderism,' as well as other racial, sexual or political content on our children"
- To fight for parent's rights with universal school choice, as well as direct election of principals by the parents
- Withhold funding from schools requiring vaccines or has mask mandates
- Impose term limits on Congress members
- Giving "baby bonuses" for the "baby boom to become. We need babies," he said, but didn't elaborate during his speech
The crowds also cheered loudly when Trump went after transgendered individuals. He promised to have Congress push a bill that would prevent transitioning, as well as protect women's sports from allowing transgendered women from competing in them. (Currently in Texas, a bill banning care for transgender kids passed through the senate committee.)
"All of this is in our reach as long as we stick together, stand firm against all attacks and see this vision through to ultimate victory," he said.
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He then addressed his decision to run in the 2024 election.
“I left behind a magnificent life and I stepped up to fight for America because no one else would do it properly, but I'd do it again because I love you and I love our country.”
The visit coincides with the 30th anniversary of the siege on the Branch Davidian complex outside Waco in 1993. The siege came to an end with federal agencies raided the complex resulting in a fire that left dozens dead.
Trump made no mention of the siege during his speech. Before the rally, a spokesperson said the site was chosen because it was conveniently situated near four of the state’s biggest metropolitan areas — Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio — and has the infrastructure to handle a sizable crowd.
Trump won in McClennan County in 2020 by more than 23 points.