SALT LAKE CITY — President Donald Trump held his first rally of the year Monday night in El Paso, Texas, using the backdrop of the border to make a case for a wall and increased immigration enforcement.
But one of his most talked-about revelations didn’t have anything to do with the border. Trump said he just doesn’t have time for man’s best friend.
“I wouldn’t mind having one, honestly, but I don’t have any time,” Trump said at the rally.
While he seemed impressed while describing the drug-detecting skills of the U.S. Secret Service's German shepherds, Trump added that he would "feel a little phony" walking a dog on the White House lawn.
Trump said “a lot of people” have advised him to get a dog because “it’s good politically.”
“I said, ‘Look, that’s not the relationship I have with my people,’” he said.
Trump currently has no pets. If he remains pet-free, he will break a long tradition of presidential pet ownership, The Associated Press reported.
Barack Obama had two Portuguese water dogs named Sunny and Bo, George W. Bush had Scottish terriers called Barney and Miss Beazley, and Bill Clinton had a cat named Socks and a chocolate Labrador retriever named Buddy, according to The Associated Press. Previous presidents also had pets, the AP reported.
Vice President Mike Pence, on the other hand, has plenty of furry friends: Harley, an Australian shepherd, a cat named Hazel, and a rabbit called Marlon Bundo.
Beyond his canine confession, here are three other takeaways from Trump's rally in El Paso:
1. A Trump supporter attacked a BBC camera operator
A BBC camera operator was attacked by a supporter of President Trump during the rally, according to the news outlet.
“BBC cameraman Ron Skeans was violently pushed and shoved by a member of the crowd while covering a President Trump rally in Texas last night,” a BBC spokesman told The New York Times.
A 36-second clip from Skeans’ camera during the shove went viral Tuesday, showing a protester in a Make America Great Again cap yelling at members of the media while being restrained by someone appearing to be part of the rally’s security team. The crowd shifts from chanting “USA” to “Let him go” as the man struggled to free himself.
The protester has not yet been publicly identified, according to the The New York Times.
Trump apparently saw the attack and continued his speech and gave a thumbs up when he saw the crew was OK, Fox News reported. Skeans returned the gesture — giving a green light to continue with the rally, according to Fox.
The BBC condemned the attack. “It is clearly unacceptable for any of our staff to be attacked for doing their job,” the statement on Tuesday said.
2. Beto O’Rourke fact-checked Trump’s rally live from across the street
Beto O’Rouke, the Texas Democrat who came close to unseating Sen. Ted Cruz, held his own event across the street as Trump took the stage in El Paso.
In front of a crowd of thousands, O’Rouke criticized Trump’s proposed border wall and his stance on immigration generally.
“We have so much to give, so much to show the rest of the country,” O’Rourke said. “Here, a city that has been one of the safest in the United States of America for 20 years and counting. ... Walls do not save lives. Walls end lives.”
He also fact-checked Trump’s speech in real time, as the president tried to drum up support for the wall by alluding to the dangers of violent criminals crossing the border, according to Vox.
“The U.S. cities of the Mexican-American border are much safer than the U.S. cities in the interior of the United States of America,” he said. Those comments are based on immigration statistics, including the fact that states with more unauthorized immigrants have slightly less violent crime, not more, and that immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans.
In last week’s State of the Union, Trump specifically mentioned El Paso.
“The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime — one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities,” Trump told Congress. “Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities.”
O’Rourke and the mayor of El Paso, Dee Margo, disputed Trump's statement. El Paso has never been one of the most dangerous cities in the United States, Fox News reported, and has consistently had the second-lowest violent crime rate of similarly sized cities, a ranking it received both before and after a partial fence was built along the border in 2008.
O'Rourke has spent the last few months pushing a social media campaign against Trump’s immigration agenda, interviewing immigrants and children of immigrants on his Instagram and Facebook pages — the most viral of which was his dental hygienist.
While O’Rourke's 2020 ambitions remain unclear, his positioning on the issue has kept him in the national spotlight, according to Vox.
3. What the rally can tell us about the 2020 election
Trump’s rally remarks hit on other themes that will likely be defining messages in the 2020 election, including abortion and socialism, USA Today reported.
"They’re becoming the party of socialism, late-term abortions, open borders and crime," Trump said of the Democrats.21 comments on this story
While Democrats have supported additional federal funding for border security, they oppose the border wall Trump proposed during his 2016 campaign.
Trump's focus on “socialism” is a response to progressive Democratic presidential candidates who have proposed Medicare-for-all health care systems or who have run on environmental platforms intended to lower carbon emissions, according to USA Today.
The president specifically mocked the "Green New Deal,” saying it sounds “like a high school term paper that got a low mark."