Donald Trump appeared to issue a statement of support for a large group of his supporters who surrounded a campaign bus of Democratic candidate Joe Biden on a highway in Texas, in a dangerous confrontation caught on camera.
The president tweeted a video of the incident, showing pickup trucks and large SUVs with Trump flags on all sides of the Biden campaign bus as it was driving on the I-35 in Hays County.
Writing in all-caps, on Saturday Mr Trump tweeted along with the video: “I LOVE TEXAS!”
The FBI has launched an investigation into the incident, described by some outlets as an “ambush” and “MAGA truck attack,” which led to at least one collision on Friday.
Citing “safety concerns,” the Texas Democratic Party cancelled multiple campaign events in support of the former vice president scheduled for later that day.
Texas has become a potential battleground in the final week of the election, as polls showed Mr Biden closing in on Mr Trump in the Lone Star state, often considered reliably red. The state added 1.8 million voters since the 2016 election, with a majority of those new registrations occurring in Democratic strongholds like urban counties and suburbs.
The Texas Republican Party declined to comment when asked about the incident by the Texas Tribune, with the party’s chairman Allen West reportedly saying: “It’s more fake news and propaganda.”
“Prepare to lose,” he said, according to the newspaper, adding: “Stop bothering me.”
Meanwhile, the confrontation was met with swift backlash from critics online as videos of the Trump caravan went viral across social media.
A communications director for the Biden campaign told the Tribune the president’s supporters “put our staff, surrogates, supporters, and others in harm’s way” when they seemed to harass the campaign bus.
Witnesses told CNN that, at one point, there were as many as 100 vehicles surrounding the Biden campaign bus, which was forced to slow down to an estimated 20 mph while driving on the interstate.
By Sunday, the president appeared to claim at a rally the truck drivers who surrounded the Biden campaign bus were attempting to protect it, despite videos clearly showing the trucks taunting the campaign vehicle as it was driving on the interstate.
The episode reflected how divisive the final weeks of the 2020 presidential election have been across the country, as the president and Mr Biden held dueling rallies in key states along the campaign trail throughout the weekend.
Democrats have called on Mr Trump and his inner circle to tone down the rhetoric, warning it could lead to violent confrontations in the days leading up to the close of the election.
Despite the confrontation, an event scheduled with vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris in Texas later that day went on as scheduled.
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