We fact checked Donald Trump’s rally in Texas

President Donald J. Trump greets U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz during a rally at the Toyota Center in Houston on Oct. 22, 2018.
President Donald J. Trump greets U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz during a rally at the Toyota Center in Houston on Oct. 22, 2018.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

President Donald Trump visited Houston on Monday for a “Make America Great Again” rally in support of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Cruz is locked in a tough race with Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke, and Trump and Cruz both criticized O’Rourke during their speeches. Read about the event here. We fact-checked some of the highlights from Trump and other featured speakers:

What happened to ISIS? (It’s not “gone.”)

One of the many speakers who took the stage prior to the president was his son, Eric Trump, who made the bold claim that “ISIS is gone.”

“It’s really amazing,” Eric Trump said, echoing his father’s claims that the Trump administration defeated ISIS. “That’s what [happens] when you take the handcuffs off the military and let them do what they do best, which is kill the bad guys.”

But military leaders say that while ISIS has been severely weakened, it is still a credible threat. In August, the Pentagon acknowledged that the group “is well-positioned to rebuild and work on enabling its physical caliphate to re-emerge.”

Just last week, the Pentagon said the terrorist organization still “remains a deadly adversary.”

“Overall, ISIS is territorially defeated, and until we achieve an enduring defeat, we will continue the fight,” Colonel Sean J. Ryan said, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

O’Rourke’s “F” rating from the NRA

During his time on stage, Cruz said that O’Rourke is against the Second Amendment, and, once again, bashed the El Paso congressman for bragging about his “F” rating from the National Rifle Association.

“Beto tweeted out how proud he is to have an ‘F’ rating from the NRA,” Cruz said to a crowd of jubilant supporters. “I promptly retweeted him.”

It’s true, O’Rourke received an “F” from the NRA. Cruz received an “A+.”

Trump, too, railed O’Rourke for his views on guns.

“I’ve never heard of an ‘F’ [rating]. An ‘F’ means he wants to take away your guns,” he said. “If Ted doesn’t win, your guns are going to be in trouble. Real trouble.”

O’Rourke has repeatedly said he supports the Second Amendment. However, he is in favor of stricter regulations when it comes to buying firearms. One week after a school shooting in Florida earlier this year that left 19 dead, O’Rourke called for a complete ban on assault rifles. More recently, he said he believed lawmakers should pass tougher national gun laws.

In The Texas Tribune’s issues guide, O’Rourke elaborated on what he thinks should be done to prevent gun violence:

“Texas should lead the way in preserving the Second Amendment while ensuring people can live and go to school without fear of gun violence. Let’s require background checks for all gun sales and close all loopholes; give federal help to local school districts to improve campus safety; stop selling weapons of war that are designed to kill people as effectively and efficiently as possible possible; and fully support federal research on gun violence so that we can better understand and address its root causes.”

Trump says Texans got in boats to watch Hurricane Harvey. Local officials have said they didn’t see such a thing.

This isn’t the first time Trump has said Texans went out in boats to watch Hurricane Harvey, which slammed the Texas Gulf Coast last August, caused tens of billions of dollars of damage and left nearly 90 Texans dead.

In June, Trump said in a conference call with state and federal leaders that “people went out in their boats to watch the hurricane. That didn’t work out too well.” Tonight, he said people with “little boats” wanted to go out into the storm during Harvey to “show their wife how great they are.”

When Trump first made this comment, first responders and lawmakers alike said they were taken aback. There’s been no evidence to back up Trump’s claim.

“I didn’t see anyone taking the approach that would reflect his comments,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez previously told The Houston Chronicle. “I’ll be sure to invite the president to ride out the next hurricane in a jon boat in Galveston Bay the next time one approaches.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also said at the time that he was unsure of what Trump was talking about.

Is O’Rourke in favor of abolishing ICE?

Cruz tonight slammed O’Rourke for being “open” to the idea of abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The issue has already been a point of contention between the two men.

When asked in June whether he supported abolishing ICE, O’Rourke said “no” — adding that he didn’t know enough about how immigration law would be enforced without the agency. He also discussed the need to eliminate fear in immigrant communities under Trump and to find a better way to enforce immigration laws.

“If that involves doing away with this agency, giving that responsibility to somebody else, changing how this agency performs, I’m open to doing that,” O’Rourke said at the time.

Did O’Rourke vote against Congress’ tax bill?


Late last year, Congress ultimately approved a major overhaul of the American tax code. But every Democrat in Texas’ 38-member delegation voted against the measure, which offered significant cuts in corporate taxes and, for some taxpayers, major changes to deductions.

In a Medium post, O’Rourke defended his “no” vote, saying that the bill “disproportionally benefits the wealthiest” and that it “will cause inequality to grow.” He also said the bill would negatively impact middle-class families.

“The conference tax bill that was rushed to a vote today is even worse than the House version that passed last month. It repeals the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate,” he wrote. “This will cause 13 million more Americans to lose the ability to see a doctor. One million in Texas alone, the least insured state in the union. Those Texans lucky enough to still be insured will see their premiums go up by an average of $1,730 a year. So we’ve got to ask, is there really a tax break if families have to pay more for their healthcare and their children’s well-being?”



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