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Trumps Projects Midterm Optimism       10/23 06:32

   President Donald Trump projected midterm optimism in Texas on Monday, saying 
the "blue wave is being dissipated a little."

   HOUSTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump projected midterm optimism in Texas 
on Monday, saying the "blue wave is being dissipated a little."

   Trump spoke before a massive crowd in Houston on behalf of his former foe 
Sen. Ted Cruz, who faces a strong challenge from Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke. 
When the two competed in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, Trump would 
frequently deride his rival as "Lyin' Ted" but said in Texas that their 
relationship had come a long way.

   "Nobody has helped me more with your tax cut, with your regulation," Trump 
said of Cruz. "He defended your jobs, he defended your borders, and we are 
defending that border, by the way."

   Trump also attacked O'Rourke, dubbing him a "stone-cold phony." 

   With the midterms drawing near, Trump continued to escalate his rhetoric on 
immigration, targeting a migrant caravan heading to the U.S. southern border. 
Trump called the caravan an "assault on our country" and suggested, without 
citing evidence, that "Democrats had something to do with it."

   "We need a wall built fast," Trump said. 

   Immigration politics have become a central part of Trump's closing message 
as he seeks to energize Republican voters in the midterm elections. Trump has 
seized on the caravan of Central Americans as evidence that his immigration 
prescriptions are needed. Earlier Monday, he said the U.S. will begin "cutting 
off, or substantially reducing" aid to three Central American nations because 
of the caravan.

   The president's focus on immigration politics comes as he seeks to counter 
Democratic enthusiasm in November. But the approach offers both risks and 
rewards. He could energize Democratic foes as well as the Republicans he wants 
to rouse to the polls.

   Monday's event bore all the trappings of a Trump rally. An enthusiastic 
crowd packed into Houston's Toyota Center, wearing red Make America Great Again 
hats and waving signs, including one with the president's new catchphrase, 
"Jobs vs. Mobs." Some did the wave as they waited for the event to start; 
others shouted "Trump, Trump, Trump!" and "Build the wall!"

   Speaking before Trump took the stage, Cruz made clear that their conflict 
was behind them and that the two were working together. His biggest applause 
came when he predicted that "in 2020, Donald Trump will be overwhelming 

   A series of Texas elected officials were among the warmup speakers, as well 
as Trump's daughter-in-law Lara Trump and son Eric Trump, who told the audience 
that "we are driving the Democrats absolutely nuts."

   Trump gleefully used his latest attack line against Democrats, saying, 
"Democrats produce mobs, Republicans produce mobs." He declared Democrats would 
be a "big risk to the American family," and went after some of his favorite 
targets, including Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California 
Rep. Maxine Waters, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Massachusetts Sen. 
Elizabeth Warren.

   The president stressed tax cuts, the strong economy and hurricane response 
in the state. He repeated his pledge for a new middle-income tax cut of about 
10 percent, though he offered few details on the plan. Trump said they would be 
"putting it in" next week, though Congress is not in session.

   Trump also criticized so-called globalists, declaring, "You know what I am? 
I'm a nationalist."

   Trump's Texas stop is part of a campaign blitz that is expected to last 
until Election Day.

   Although political relationships tend to be fluid, Trump's appearance for 
Cruz is notable, given that the two were bitter enemies during the 2016 
primaries. After Trump insulted Cruz's wife and father, and Cruz refused to 
endorse Trump at the Republican convention, it was far from clear that the two 
would ever put it all behind them.

   But they started rebuilding in the closing days of the campaign and have 
worked together since Trump took the White House.

   The White House views Cruz as a loyal vote for his agenda. Trump promised he 
would come to Texas after the Senate race grew closer than expected, with 
O'Rourke out-fundraising Cruz and drawing large and enthusiastic crowds around 
the state. Cruz, who is leading O'Rourke in the polls, said over the summer 
that he would welcome Trump's support, though he has brushed off any suggestion 
he'd need Trump to win.


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