A caravan of trucks and SUVs with Trump flags that pulled together on a Biden campaign bus in Texas on Friday has become a focal point on the final weekend of the 2020 campaign.
The drivers’ actions have been condemned by Democrats, praised by President Donald Trump, and the FBI is currently investigating the incident, according to CNN and the Texas Tribune.
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 from a Biden campaign volunteer shows the vehicles circling and chasing the bus on a Texas freeway and at least one collision when a pickup hit an SUV in the next lane just behind the bus.
This tactic has 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 there were “nearly 100 vehicles around the campaign bus,” according to CNN, and it was forced to slow down from freeway speed to just 20 mph. During the incident, employees called 911, and the Texas Democrats canceled three events scheduled for later that day for “security reasons.”
“Pro-Trump protesters have escalated well beyond safe boundaries,” tweeted Texas MP Sheryl Cole, a Democrat running for re-election.
The Biden campaign has been paying increasing attention to Texas in the final days of the presidential race as polls show close competition in the historically red state, which Trump won with 9 points in 2016.
According to the FiveThirtyEight poll average for Texas, Trump leads Biden by just 1.5 percentage points, and Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris traveled to the state on Friday (her state campaign was separated from the bus tour in the Texas Tribune, according to the video) to strengthen the democratic basis and to influence undecided voters there.
Trump has cheered the car and truck parades – also in Texas
Trump vehicle convoys – along with their close relatives, Trump Boat Parades – have become a recurring feature of the 2020 Presidential Race, which sees Trump Train events take to the streets on Sunday in Manatee County, Florida. Washington, DC; Houston; and Louisville, Kentucky, among other locations. Convoys also ceased traffic on the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey and on the Mario Cuomo and Whitestone Bridges in New York.
However, the conflict with the Biden bus in Texas was an escalation of that tactic – one given the growing concerns about violence related to the election and the fact that Trump himself continues to cast doubts about the results.
On Saturday, Trump tweeted a video of the incident with the headline “I LOVE TEXAS!” – a move that is unlikely to allay widespread fears of violence related to the 2020 elections. According to a USA Today / Suffolk University poll conducted October 23-27, 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 recently wrote, Trump has “repeatedly shown that he has no interest in promoting peace”. His Saturday tweet is just the latest example.
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