EL PASO, Texas - Democrat Beto O'Rourke told a hometown El Paso crowd that it's time to "show the country that there is nothing to be afraid of when it comes to the U.S.-Mexico border."
O'Rourke spoke Monday at a baseball stadium across the street from the arena from where President Donald Trump was promoting his U.S.-Mexico border wall. Cheers from Trump's fans could be heard at the counter-protest.
Beforehand, O'Rourke marched with thousands of protesters through the streets of El Paso, decrying a border wall that President Donald Trump was in town to promote.
Wearing a black fleece pullover and stopping every few steps to hug supporters, O'Rourke was among a group walking close to the U.S.-Mexico border and along the city's existing border fence.
The group marched to a venue across a small side street from the arena where Trump was holding his own a rally.
O'Rourke told the crowd, "You make El Paso proud and you make the country proud."
Protesters chanted "No wall!" and "Viva Beto!" as they proceeded.
O'Rourke says El Paso is "one of the safest cities in America -- safe not because of walls but in spite of walls."
The former congressman says, "We are making a stand for the truth."
He says, "Walls do not save lives, walls end lives," citing the danger to asylum seekers who are rejected by the U.S.
Protesters were chanting "Beto!" during breaks in O'Rourke's speech.
O'Rourke says, "The judgment of history is looking back at this moment." The former congressman is mulling a 2020 presidential run, and many in the crowd yelled for him to announce his candidacy. But O'Rourke said only, "This is where we make our stand."
Police did not give official estimates on O'Rourke's crowd size, but it appeared to exceed 5,000, in contrast to Trump's estimate of a few hundred.