A caravan of trucks and SUVs flying Trump flags that converged on a Biden campaign bus in Texas on Friday has become a flashpoint in the final weekend of the 2020 campaign.
The drivers’ actions have been decried by Democrats, praised by President Donald Trump, and, according to CNN and the Texas Tribune, the incident is now under investigation by the FBI.
The bus was traveling from Austin to San Antonio on Interstate 35, a major north-south artery through Texas, when it was surrounded by a convoy of trucks and cars. A video by a Biden campaign volunteer shows the vehicles encircling and tailgating the bus on a Texas highway as well as at least one collision, when a pickup truck hit a SUV driving in the next lane over, immediately behind the bus.
These tactics have no place in Texas, my home state, and no place in America.
Please vote. Please volunteer this weekend. The future of our democracy is at stake. pic.twitter.com/G0O4yg2vnJ
— Dr. Eric Cervini (@ericcervini) October 31, 2020
The Biden campaign claimed, according to CNN, there were “nearly 100 vehicles around the campaign bus,” and that it was forced to slow from highway speeds to just 20 miles per hour. Staffers called 911 during the incident, and Texas Democrats subsequently canceled three events scheduled for later in the day because of “safety concerns.”
“Pro-Trump Protestors have escalated well beyond safe limits,” Texas state Rep. Sheryl Cole, a Democrat running for reelection, tweeted.
The Biden campaign has paid increasing attention to Texas in the closing days of the presidential race, as polls show a close contest in the historically red state, which Trump won by 9 points in 2016.
According to the FiveThirtyEight polling average for Texas, Trump leads Biden by only 1.5 percentage points, and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris traveled to the state Friday (her campaign swing through the state was separate from the bus tour in the video, according to the Texas Tribune) in order to energize the Democratic base, and sway undecided voters there.
Trump vehicle convoys — along with their close relative, Trump boat parades — have become a recurring feature in the 2020 presidential race, with “Trump Train” events taking to the road on Sunday in Manatee County, Florida; Washington, DC; Houston; and Louisville, Kentucky, among other locations. Convoys also shut down traffic on the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey and on the Mario Cuomo and Whitestone bridges in New York.
But the conflict with the Biden bus in Texas was an escalation of these tactics — one that comes amid rising concern about violence around the election, and as Trump himself continues to cast doubt on the results.
Saturday, Trump approvingly tweeted a video of the incident with the caption “I LOVE TEXAS!” — a move that isn’t likely to assuage widespread fears about violence surrounding the 2020 election. According to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll taken from October 23 to October 27, fully 75 percent of likely voters are somewhat or very concerned about the possibility of violence on or after Election Day.
And Trump himself has a long history of glorifying and inciting violence. As Vox’s Fabiola Cineas wrote recently, Trump has “repeatedly proven that he has no interest in promoting peace.” His Saturday tweet is just the latest example.
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