DALLAS – Martha Doss, a naturalized American citizen who was born in Mexico, arrived early Thursday outside the American Airlines Center in Dallas to show her support for President Donald Trump, both figuratively and literally.

“Became a U.S. citizen in 2017,” read the handmade sign Doss was showing off. “Voting for Trump in 2020!”

Doss, a small-business owner, was among a fast-swelling crowd north of downtown arriving for Trump’s first campaign rally in Texas since he became the subject of an impeachment hearing launched last month by Democratic U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Doss said she is not distracted by such matters. Instead, she likes the president because he opposes abortion and has kept the the economy humming.

“I own my own business,” she said. “If I make a million dollars, I don’t want it taxed away and redistributed to somebody else.”

Phillip Hyde drove to Dallas from the East Texas town of Hyde wearing one of Trump’s signature red ballcaps with the “Make America Great Again” slogan emblazoned above the bill.

He swapped it out for a white cowboy hat with red and blue “Trump 2020” lettering. It was a gift from his son, who purchased it from the throngs of street vendors hawking Trump buttons, T-shirts, banners and of course, hats.

“This is a family affair,” Hyde said, noting that his wife and son and other relatives accompanied him to the arena.

“I want to hear what he has to say,” Hyde added, not that he hasn’t made up his mind on how he plans to vote. “I’m for him again, and he’s gonna win. Again.”

Supporters from around Texas, along with throngs of street vendors from all over the country who hop from Trump rally to Trump rally, began arriving at the 20,000-seat American Airlines Center around daybreak. By noon, the lines with a dozen or more people standing abreast filled about four city blocks north of downtown.

By 4 p.m. when the arena doors were scheduled to open, the waiting crowd had doubled in size.

The crowd at the arena’s northeast side was entertained by a talk show-style political program produced by the Trump campaign. A live band that covered such singles as Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried,” Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” and “The Joker” by the Steve Miller Band kept the burgeoning crowd entertained.

During the performance of “The Wall,” the line stating “we don’t need no thought control” was changed to “we don’t need no gun control.”

Franklin Hughes, a vendor from South Carolina attending his 30th rally, said business was steady despite the competition. The talk of impeachment in the nation’s capital has done nothing but improve sales, he said.

“It isn’t hurting my business one bit,” Franklin said. “It’s making it better.”

A half block from Hughes’ small vending station, Dallas resident Eric Clendenin worked through the people stuck on line – many in lawn chairs carried from home and enjoying picnic-style lunches – carrying a clipboard and petitions.

“We’re asking them to sign the petition telling the Democrats in Congress to end this impeachment nonsense,” Clendenin said, adding that he was handing out the office phone numbers to several Democratic House members.

“As long as they have time on their hands,” he added, “this gives them something to do.”

Trump, who needs to keep Texas in the Republican column in 2020 if he is to win a second term, has enjoyed large and friendly crowds in his visits to the Lone Star State.

When he visited the Democratic stronghold of El Paso in February, supporters began lining up some 12 hours before the El Paso County Coliseum opened its doors. A year ago as the 2018 campaign was winding down, the sidewalks leading to Houston’s Toyota Center were filled with people waiting to get a seat inside as Trump campaigned for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s re-election.

At his rallies, vendors hawk Trump merchandise, including the signature red hats emblazoned with the “Make America Great Again” slogan.

The president was to arrive in Dallas on Thursday while impeachment proceedings initiated by congressional Democrats continue to swirl from Washington. Cruz and felllow Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn planned to join Trump in the rally in their home state, and both have dismissed the impeachment effort as a partisan sideshow.

Ahead of the rally, both Texans have criticized Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria amid escalating tensions with Turkey.

“It would also be DISGRACEFUL if we sat idly by while Turkey slaughters the Kurds, as public reports suggest that Turkish leader Erdogan explicitly told President Trump he intends to do. Kurds risked their lives – for many years – to fight alongside us,” Cruz said in a tweet.

© © 2019 Journal Media Group

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