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Trump v Beto: BBC cameraman attacked as President and Democrat hold competing rallies

Trump attacked his potential rival during his Texas speech.

Trump Trump arrives on stage in El Paso. Source: Susan Walsh/PA Images

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump and hometown Democrat Beto O’Rourke held competing rallies in El Paso, Texas last night.

In the first dueling rallies of the 2020 campaign season, Trump’s “Finish the Wall” rally in El Paso went head-to-head night against counterprogramming by O’Rourke, a former Democratic congressman and potential Trump rival in 2020, who argued that walls cause more problems than they solve.

At Trump’s event, a BBC cameraman was attacked by by a man shouting “fuck the media”, in an incident that has been condemned by other journalists.

The rallies across the street from each other served as a preview of the heated yearslong fight over the direction of the country.

And they made clear that Trump’s long-promised border wall is sure to play an outsized role in the presidential race, as both sides use it to try to rally their supporters and highlight their contrasting approaches.

Standing in a packed stadium under a giant American flag and banners saying “FINISH THE WALL,” Trump insisted that large portions of the project are already under construction and vowed to fulfill his 2016 campaign promise regardless of what happens in Congress.

“Walls work,” said Trump, whose rally was repeatedly interrupted by protesters. “Walls save lives.”

O’Rourke, meanwhile, held a countermarch with dozens of local civic, human rights and Hispanic groups in his hometown, followed by a protest rally attended by thousands on a baseball field within shouting distance from the arena where Trump spoke.

“With the eyes of the country upon us, all of us together are going to make our stand here in one of the safest cities in America,” O’Rourke said.  “Safe not because of walls but in spite of walls.”

Source: FOX 10 Phoenix/YouTube

More than a half-hour in his rally, Trump had scarcely mentioned immigration, offering just a passing suggestion that those chanting “Build the Wall” switch to “Finish the Wall.”

Instead, he mocked O’Rourke, insisting the Texan has “very little going for himself except he’s got a great first name” and deriding his crowd size, even though both men drew thousands.

“That may be the end of his presidential bid,” Trump quipped, adding: “You’re supposed to win in order to run.”

Trump placed O’Rourke the among the other Democrats who have announced their candidacy, deriding them as “people you have never heard of”. 

During his event, Trump repeatedly criticised the media and BBC cameraman Rob Skeans was attacked by a Trump supporter during his speech.

BBC Washington News Editor Eleanor Montague tweeted footage of the attack, saying that the crowd had been “whipped up into a frenzy” by Trump. 

The cameraman was not seriously injured. 

(Click here if video doesn’t play)

The rallies began moments after negotiators on Capitol Hill announced that lawmakers had reached an agreement in principle to fund the government ahead of a midnight Friday deadline to avoid another shutdown.

Trump appeared oblivious to the deal, saying that he’d been informed by aides that negotiators had made some progress but that he had declined to be fully briefed because he wanted to go on stage.

“I had a choice. I could’ve stayed out there and listened, or I could have come out to the people of El Paso, and Texas, I chose you,” Trump said. “So we probably have some good news. But who knows?”

Trump, who has been threatening to declare a national emergency to bypass Congress, added, “Just so you know, we’re building the wall anyway.” 

‘Beto for President 2020′

Source: CBS News/YouTube

The countermarch began at a high school about a mile from the baseball field in the shadow of Trump’s rally, its participants streaming past part of the border and the towering metal slats lining it.

Marchers waved handmade signs reading “Fire the Liar,” ”Hate Is Not What Makes America Great” and “Make Tacos, Not Walls.” 

Many marchers, and those in the crowd at the ballpark, carried flags reading “Beto for President 2020″.

The Democrat said the event wasn’t only about him — or Trump — but meant to tell the true story of life in El Paso.

“It is going to be the people of the border,” O’Rourke told the crowd before beginning the march, “who will write the next chapter in the history of this great country. Ensuring that our laws and our language and our leaders match our values.”

Trump has repeatedly pointed to El Paso to make his case that a border wall is necessary and has falsely claimed that barriers have turned from one of the nation’s most dangerous to one of its safest.

O’Rourke challenged Trump’s falsehoods during his speech, saying the city is in fact safer because of its immigrant population. 

“El Paso has been the safest city in the United States of America not in spite of the fact that we are a city of immigrants, but because we are a city of immigrants,” he said. 

- With reporting by Associated Press

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Rónán Duffy

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