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Trump Sidesteps Question on Waco Allegations by Bragging About Crowd Size

Newsweek 3/25/2023 Kaitlin Lewis
Former President Donald Trump arrives for an event at the Adler Theatre on March 13, 2023 in Davenport, Iowa. Trump's first official campaign rally for his third presidential bid will take place on Saturday in Waco, Texas. © Scott Olson/Getty Images Former President Donald Trump arrives for an event at the Adler Theatre on March 13, 2023 in Davenport, Iowa. Trump's first official campaign rally for his third presidential bid will take place on Saturday in Waco, Texas.

Former President Donald Trump bypassed a question from Newsmax Friday after being asked his thoughts on accusations that his rally scheduled in Waco, Texas, intends to provoke symbolism linked to the 1993 Waco siege.

Trump is hosting his first official campaign rally for the 2024 presidency Saturday night at Waco Regional Airport. But the location choice has raised concerns due to Waco's significance to far-right extremists, as Trump's rally arrives during the 30th anniversary of the Waco siege, a botched federal raid on the Branch Davidian religious sect, which left 86 people dead after a 51-day standoff.


The siege's site has become a symbol for far-right and anti-government groups, including some that have shown consistent loyalty to the former president.

In an op-ed from its editorial board Thursday, the Houston Chronicle said that Trump was sending a "blaring air horn" to some of his supporters by choosing Waco for the rally, adding that the city "has become an Alamo of sorts, a shrine for the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters, the Oath Keepers and other anti-government extremists and conspiracists."

The former president's spokesperson, Steven Cheung, previously told Newsweek that the central-Texas city was chosen by Trump's campaign "because it is centrally located to all four of Texas' biggest metropolitan areas—Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio—while providing the necessary infrastructure to hold a rally of this magnitude."

"This is the ideal location to have as many supporters from across the state and in neighboring states attend this historic rally," Cheung said.

During an interview with Newsmax host Rob Schmitt on Friday, Trump was asked for his "thoughts" on the accusations that he purposely chose the city with the intent of "stoking the fires of Waco."

In response, however, the former president instead talked about his estimates for the crowd size showing up Saturday.

"Well, I knew there's tens of thousands of people that we're going to have, you, you know, many, many tens of thousands, the line is already miles long trying to get in," Trump said, "We're going to have a great time in Waco, we're going to have a great time in Texas."

"We have tremendous support," he continued. "We have a lot of congressmen coming, a lot of the great people in politics are coming, and most importantly the people of Texas are going, and it's going to be a very big rally."

Local media outlets estimate that around 10,000 to 15,000 people will flock to the city of about 139,500 for Trump's rally.

As Newsweek previously reported, several GOP lawmakers from Texas told Insider that they cannot attend, and a speaker list for the event has yet to be confirmed.

Aides for Representative Troy Nehls said the congressman has an engagement in Washington, D.C., on the same day. Representative Michael McCaul and Texas GOP Chairman Matt Rinaldi also said they can't attend. Congressman Pete Sessions, a Waco native, told the outlet he also has prior engagements on Saturday.

While Trump's spirits about the rally remain high, his attendance could potentially see a dip thanks to a scheme by his niece, Mary Trump, who encouraged her followers over Twitter Thursday to reserve tickets ahead of time to "make sure most of the seats are empty when the traitor takes the stage."

The former president's rally arrives as Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg wraps up his investigation of payments made to adult-film star Stormy Daniels during Trump's first presidential election in 2016. Trump has continued to deny any wrongdoing, and ended his Newsmax interview saying that Bragg's investigation and potential indictment is an example of "weaponization" by the government.

"They're running elections with prosecutors, that's what they're doing," Trump said.

Newsweek has reached out to the Republican Party of Texas through its website for comment.

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