Numbers and enthusiasm were both rising steadily Monday morning in Houston as supporters of President Donald Trump and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz began gathering outside the Toyota Center.
Although the rally was relocated last week from the 8,000-seat NRG Arena to the 19,000-person capacity Toyota Center, officials have said they faced more than 100,000 requests for tickets to the rally, designed to show Trump’s support for Cruz, his former rival for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination
Because requests far outnumbered seats, the Trump campaign decided to throw a Texas-style party.
Incredible numbers for #HoustonRally. 100,000+ RSVPs. I have flown in early and my great team is setting up the first ever TAILGATER for outside. So everyone come, room for everyone. Come see @realDonaldTrump inside or out! pic.twitter.com/92M3qBs5tp
— Brad Parscale (@parscale) October 21, 2018
“Texas is big, and so will be the turnout for our MAGA rally in Houston, Texas Monday,” said Michael Glassner, chief operating officer of Donald J, Trump for President, Inc., according to the Washington Examiner.
“That’s why we’ve organized the Donald Trump–Big Texas Tailgater outside the Toyota Center. We’ll have great food, live music, big screens, and a great time for all of our guests. Inside and out, the excitement at this Trump rally will be as big as Texas — it’s going to be epic,” he said.
Big Night In Texas!!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2018
Trump supporters began arriving Sunday, with some spending the night outside.
“I just have a couple of jackets, blankets, chairs, umbrella, good friends, my wife. I’m ready for anything. I’ll be here until I get in,” said Frank Cannon, according to KTRK.
WATCH: Long line to get into President Trump’s campaign rally in Texas tonight, including many people who slept in the line overnight. pic.twitter.com/vkLBBXQCqu
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 22, 2018
Trump supporters said the president is doing what they want done in Washington.
“When they punch, he punches back. We love that about him,” said Jen Salinas of San Antonio, who said she was the Texas director of “Latinos for Trump,” the San Antonio Express-News reported.
“He stands his ground, he stands up for himself, he stands up for us when we don’t have a voice. You know, Trump’s our voice,” she said.
For some, showing up was worth an inconvenience.
Glen Collins said he and his fiancee, DeeJay Miller, left their 5-month-old baby with a relative in Waco. They planned to spend Sunday night in a motel after a 180-mile drive to Houston, but scrapped that plan when they saw the line to get in the Toyota Center.
“We thought we’d get down here at 6 a.m., but when I drove down here to scout it out, I seen the line and I said, ‘We can’t take our chances. We just gotta sit out here,'” Collins said.
Collins said the trip cost them money, but said it was Trump’s tax cut that helped them make more money this past year.
“He’s the one who gave me the money, so I’m alright with that. It’s totally worth it,” Collins said.
Cruz is facing a spirited challenge from Democrat Beto O’Rourke.
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