AUSTIN, Texas — Former president Donald Trump criticized Democrats for a litany of issues Saturday, including inflation and immigration, during an Austin rally where he urged conservative supporters to help the Republican Party take control of Congress in November’s midterm elections.
“I ask you to get ready to work, get ready to fight, get ready to win — and win like never before,” Trump said to a crowd of thousands at the Austin Convention Center. “Together, we will take back the House, we will take the Senate, and we will take back our country.”
Despite losing reelection in 2020, Trump continues to have outsized influence among conservatives and his endorsements of candidates have carried significant clout in the Republican Party. The GOP is slated to increase their margins in both chambers of Congress after the November elections, as the party in control of the White House has historically performed poorly in midterms.
Trump touted several of his Texas endorsements on Saturday — most notably embattled Attorney General Ken Paxton, the state official Trump called “a fighter like no other” who is facing Land Commissioner George P. Bush in a GOP primary runoff this month.
The former president also reiterated his support for Sen. Dawn Buckingham in her quest to become Texas Land Commissioner, former state Sen. Pete Flores in his campaign to reenter the Legislature, Phil Sorrells in the Tarrant County district attorney race and Frederick Frazier in House District 61.
Early voting in the May 24 runoff elections begins Monday.
“Our country in many ways is being destroyed,” Trump said of Democrats. “The Biden disasters are too numerous to count, but inflation is the highest in nearly 50 years. Gas prices have reached the highest price ever in the history of our country, destroying families.”
Trump also touched on several flashpoint topics that have energized those on the far right, including public education, border security and voting integrity. He also raised his debunked false claims of the 2020 election being stolen.
“Under a Republican Congress, we will once and for all ban critical race theory in our schools and we will stand up for parental rights,” Trump said.
Critical race theory is a university-level academic framework that analyzes intersections between race and law — and experts say it is not taught in K-12 public Texas schools. Texas lawmakers last year passed a law limiting how race and current events are discussed in public schools. They referred to it as the “critical race theory” bill, even though the term does not appear in the legislation.
Trump also said teachers shouldn’t be allowed to “teach transgender.” Florida lawmakers this year passed a bill that critics dubbed “don’t say gay” for its restrictions on teaching sexual orientation and gender identity. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he wanted to prioritize similar legislation in Texas next year.
“We achieved all sorts of things along the border. It was an incredible thing. It was an incredible period of time,” Trump said of his efforts on border security. “Biden is now systematically surrendering every single advantage that I really brilliantly got. They don't give me any credit.”
Not all seats in the center were filled Thursday. Several supporters streamed out of the event hall during Trump’s remarks, which capped off an all-day event featuring a slate of leading voices within the conservative movement — including Donald Trump, Jr., former Trump adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The event was part of the larger America Freedom Tour, which aims to rally conservative energy around Trump. The tour will take its next stop in Memphis, Tennessee on June 18.
This story comes from our KHOU 11 News partners at The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans - and engages with them - about public policy, politics, government, and statewide issues.