Joe Biden’s presidential campaign canceled a Friday event in Austin, Texas, following harassment from a pro-Trump contingent.
Texas has emerged as a battlefield state in Tuesday’s presidential election, with polls showing the typical Republican stronghold now only marginally favors President Donald Trump. The Biden campaign planned a Friday event in the state in an attempt to drum up last-minute support.
But when the Biden campaign bus drove to Austin, it was met by a blockade of Trump pro-protesters, leading to what a Texas House official described as an escalation “far beyond safe limits.”
The cancellation comes amid national concern over voter intimidation, a tactic that the Trump campaign has implicitly endorsed.
The historian Dr. Eric Cervini was driving to help stop the Biden campaign as he filmed a series of pick-up trucks along the highway, many of them flying Trump flags. The drivers “were waiting to reread the Biden / Harris campaign bus as it traveled from San Antonio to Austin,” Cervini tweeted.
“These Trump supporters, many of whom were armed, surrounded the bus on the highway and tried to drive it off the road,” he claimed. “They surpassed the number of police 50-1 and they ended up hitting an employee’s car.”
An employee of the Biden campaign told The Daily Beast that Trump supporters surrounded the bus on the highway and braked in front of it, trying to stop it or drive it off the road. The official posted a photo taken on the bus with Trump trucks surrounding the front of the vehicle. Employees on the bus called the police, who helped the bus reach its destination.
Video from the highway shows trucks surrounding the bus at one point colliding with an SUV.
Footage from a CBS subsidiary in Austin shows Trump supporters with signs and bullhorns around the bus as it parked, with someone shouting that Biden was a communist.
Rep. Sheryl Cole, a Democrat representing nearby Pflugerville in Texas’s House, announced that a Biden event in her city had been canceled due to harassment.
“This is a 1st for me – but we just canceled a joint event in the Pflugerville w / @ JoeBiden campaign,
@AustinYoungDems & more for security reasons, ”she tweeted. “Unfortunately, pro-Trump protesters have escalated far beyond safe limits. Sorry to everyone who was looking forward to this fun event. ”
The Biden campaign’s communications director in Texas, Tariq Thowfeek, said the event would have put Biden’s employees and supporters at risk.
“Instead of engaging in a productive conversation about the drastically different visions that Joe Biden and Donald Trump have for our country, Trump supporters in Texas today decided instead to harm our staff, surrogates, supporters and others. “Thowfeek told The Daily. Beat.
“Our supporters will continue to organize their community for Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Democrats up and down the vote and for the Texans who disrupted our events today: See you on November 3rd.”
The Trump campaign – and often Trump himself – has encouraged personal conflict over the vote. Trump used the first presidential debate to encourage supporters to act as “voting watchdogs,” a call that sparked concern about voter intimidation. His son, Donald Trump Jr., made an explicit call regarding the Texas outreach efforts of the Biden campaign.
In a video ahead of a Friday event by Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, Trump called on Jr. his father’s supporters to show up at Harris’ event.
Hi Laredo, Don Jr. here, ”he said. “I heard you had a great time on the Trump Train. It would be great if you all would meet, go down to McAllen and give Kamala Harris a nice Trump Train welcome. Get out there, have fun, enjoy it. Do not forget to vote and bring all your friends. Let’s show them how strong Texas still is as a Trump country. Get out there, guys. ”
Some Trump supporters seemed to obey the call. At least one Facebook event with more than 700 responses, seen by The Daily Beast, urged Trump fans to attend a Harris event in Fort Worth, Texas on Friday and “give Kamala Harris a big Texas welcome. . TRUMP STYLE! ” The event was listed as canceled in advance, though its organizers acknowledged that some may still be trying to attend, “and that’s your right.”
Trump supporters have previously been accused of intimidation in this election. In Beverly Hills, California this week, an Australian TV personality filmed the participants in a pro-Trump rally shouting at her and threatening her in her car. A man waving a Trump flag at her appeared to be photographing her and taking down the number on the license plate.
“We have you now,” shouted the man. “You want to vote for Trump, whether you like it or not, you have no choice.”
When Biden spoke at an event in Minnesota on Friday, the same day his campaign was ambushed in Austin, Trump supporters in a caravan of vehicles allegedly mentioned the room honking their horns and singing.
During the early voting in the swing state of Virginia at the end of last month, a caravan of Trump supporters drove to the democratically skewed Fairfax County and surrounded people in an early voting line, shouting at them in the loudspeakers.
“We had a couple of polling observers there who were actually going to escort voters because we saw people who would come to the edge of the parking lot and see this huge group of Trumpers shouting and screaming,” Fairfax County Democratic Committee executive told The Daily Beast at the time.