President Donald Trump will Partially make good on his promise to hold a "major rally" for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz this Monday, October 22—except it won't be held in "the biggest stadium in Texas we can find," as he tweeted at the end of August, but rather the relatively diminutive, 8,000-seat NRG Arena (a.k.a. "the place where the rodeo keeps the horses").
Why not the much larger NRG Stadium located across the parking lot? That's unclear, as the public schedule shows the stadium unoccupied between Saturday's monster truck rally and Wednesday's Texans game. An anonymous Trump campaign aide nevertheless defended the venue choice late Monday to the Dallas Morning News:
"The suggestion that we didn't book the largest venue available is erroneous, as we sought other locations for the day that early voting begins in Texas on October 22, but they were not available in Houston," this aide said by email.
Billed the "Make America Great Again Rally," the evening comes at a time when Cruz's lead in the polls against Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke fluctuates anywhere from dead heat to single digits—too close for comfort in a race that could determine which party controls the Senate. As of this writing, the New York Times predicts the race as 51 Cruz–43 Beto, with approximately 5 percent of voters undecided.
While it's typical for the leader of a party to lend a hand during campaigns, there is something unusual about this president entering the fray to help this senator. A few memories from the 2016 presidential campaign:
- That time Trump suggested Cruz's father lent a hand with JFK's assassination
- The repeated tweets in which Trump called Cruz's wife, Heidi, ugly
- The many, many times Trump referred the senator as "Lyin' Ted"
Cruz fell in line with the president immediately after the election, and greeted initial news of the rally with an unequivocal "Terrific!"