DALLAS (AP) — President Donald Trump tried to turn impeachment rancor into a political rallying cry Thursday, using a Texas rally to bash Democrats as "crazy" and unpatriotic as they push forward with their investigations.
Setting a dire tone, Trump told his supporters, "At stake in this fight is the survival of American democracy itself."
"Don't kid yourselves," he said of the Democrats, "I really don't believe anymore that they love our country."
A day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats walked out of a White House meeting that had devolved into an insult-fest, Trump denounced her as "crazy Nancy."
"She's nuts," he told the crowd at a packed stadium in Dallas.
The comments come as the House continues its quickly unfolding inquiry into Trump's dealings with Ukraine, deposing witness after witness as they build their case. But Trump and his campaign have tried to turn the inquiry his way, accusing Democrats of using the Constitutional process to try to overturn the results of the 2016 election.
"They're coming after and fighting you and we never lose," he said, predicting the 2020 election will be "a landslide" for Republicans, despite polling showing him lagging behind.
Trump also continued his attacks on former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter's work for a Ukraine energy company. Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Biden family are at the heart of the Democrats' inquiry into whether Trump compromised national security and used his office to try to bolster his 2020 chances by pushing foreign governments to investigate one of his Democratic rivals.
Trump's day included a tour of a new Louis Vuitton leather workshop in north central Texas and a fundraiser in Fort Worth that, combined with a pre-rally reception in Dallas, brought in $5.5 million, according to the Republican National Committee.
Texas is a crucial state for Republicans, both in terms of money and votes.
Trump carried the GOP stronghold and its 38 Electoral College votes by 9 points in 2016. But Democrats have pointed to demographic changes — as well as the fact that Republican Sen. Ted Cruz won reelection by less than 3 points last year — as evidence that the second-most-populous state could soon be in play. But Trump rejected that thinking, as he urged his supporters to re-elect Cruz and John Cornyn, the state's other Republican senator.
As he campaigns for a second term, Trump's team has tried to focus attention on economic gains over the last three years, including the low unemployment rate. Pressing that message, Trump cut the ribbon at a new production facility for the luxury brand Louis Vuitton in Alvarado with his elder daughter, Ivanka.
Trump joked that the company, which is known for its logoed handbags and luggage, has cost him "a lot of money over the years." His wife, first lady Melania Trump, has repeatedly been spotted traveling with the brand.
"This workshop will soon employ 500 of the most highly skilled workers anywhere in the world," Trump said. "No one can match the precision and perfection of an American artisan."
The Texas visit comes at a treacherous time for Trump, whose dealings with the president of Ukraine are under fire. While Republicans have largely rallied around him, they sounded alarms over his decision to pull U.S. troops out of northeast Syria — a move that paved the way for Turkey to invade and assault the Kurds, who'd fought alongside the U.S. in its campaign against Islamic State militants.
At his rally, Trump credited his "unconventional" approach for the announcement of a cease-fire Thursday. And he repeatedly painted the Turkish assault on the Kurds as something that had its benefits.
"Sometimes you have to let them fight, like two kids in a lot," he said. "You got to let them fight and then you pull them apart."
Trump's campaign and the RNC have been raking in record money, raising $125 million in the third quarter of 2019 and smashing the just over $70 million former President Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee raised in the third quarter of 2011.
Meanwhile, Trump's would-be challengers are deep in an increasingly contentious race for the Democratic nomination.
One of those candidates, former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, was holding a counter-rally protesting Trump's appearance in nearby Grand Prairie Thursday evening. He did the same when Trump held a rally in El Paso in February and drew a substantial crowd, but his standing in the race has since fallen.
Still, Trump made sure to call him out, pointing to his plan to confiscate assault-style rifles and his support for rescinding the tax-exempt status for churches and charities that are anti-LGBTQ.
"No religion and no guns. I think that's not good," Trump said.
O'Rourke's campaign has said that, if he's elected president, he would not challenge the tax-exempt status of religious organizations that oppose same-sex marriage.
Kevin Freking contributed to this report from Washington.