EDINBURG, Texas (Nexstar) — Former President Donald Trump made a return to Texas on Sunday, where he’s expected to receive backing for his 2024 bid from the Lone Star State’s top Republican.
Trump joined Gov. Greg Abbott in the Rio Grande Valley — home to a large portion of the highly-pined for Hispanic vote that Republicans have increasingly been investing time, money and resources in.
It follows an early November trip to Houston, where the indicted former president held a rally as his poll numbers soar when ranked against fellow Republicans vying for their party’s nomination to take back the White House.
The two Republican leaders met with state authorities stationed in South Texas as part of Abbott’s Operation Lone Star — his signature multi-billion dollar border security initiative. Trump and Abbott plan to serve meals in Edinburg to Texas National Guard soldiers, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers, and authorities at the border for the Thanksgiving holiday.
The two later made remarks to press at an airport hangar in a smaller scale event with about 150 GOP supporters in the crowd. Other top state leaders who joined Abbott and Trump, including: Texas Major General Thomas Suelzer, Texas Border Czar Mike Banks and National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd. Former Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert also joined the leaders, getting a couple personal shoutouts from the former president during his remarks. Land Commissioner Dawn Buckingham was also present, but in her own capacity.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, a longtime ally of Trump, told Nexstar he was unable to attend due to a family conflict but said he welcomed Abbott’s endorsement.
“As the first Texas statewide elected official to formally endorse his 2016 campaign and his 2024 campaign, I want to welcome my friend, Donald Trump, back to the Lone Star State,” Miller said. “I’m not sure what Governor Abbott was waiting for. Donald Trump is winning Texas by almost 60 points!”
Trump still dominates among Texas Republicans, polls show
Pollster Jim Henson of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin calls Trump “still the man to beat” amongst state Republicans.
As of August, the former president’s favorability amongst GOP voters in Texas sits at 79%. At its highest point during his four-year term, 86% of Texas Republicans approved of Trump and it was lowest in October 2016 at 60%.
Henson said Trump’s legal issues have not impacted Republican voters’ views of him.
“It would seem among Republican — but probably not enough to make a difference in — his highest post-presidential approval rating was about 85-86%. So I said that’s now down in the high 70s, not enough to make a difference here,” Henson said.
This is a developing story, check back for updates. Capitol Correspondent Monica Madden will posting updates on her social media accounts, @TheMonicaMadden.