Trump Yahoos Swarm Biden Bus in Texas

Just when you thought the 2020 campaign couldn't go any lower.

Yesterday afternoon, I saw several reports that a vehicle carrying Trump supporters had a minor collision with a Biden campaign bus and that several Biden campaign events had been canceled as a result. I dismissed it as tomfoolery gone awry but the reporting this morning certainly looks more sinister.

The Texas Tribune report (“Biden camp cancels multiple Texas events after a ‘Trump Train’ surrounded a campaign bus“) shows the current understanding:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into a Friday incident in which a group of Trump supporters, driving trucks and waving Trump flags, surrounded and followed a Biden campaign bus as it drove up I-35 in Hays County, a law enforcement official confirmed to The Texas Tribune Saturday.

The confrontation, captured on video, featured at least one minor collision and led to Texas Democrats canceling three scheduled campaign events on Friday. The campaign officials cited “safety concerns” for the cancellations.

The highway skirmish came as Democrats close ground in a state that is polling like a potential battleground in the race for president. Recent polls indicate the presidential race in Texas between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden is tight, with some national prognosticators calling it a “toss-up.”

“Rather than engage in productive conversation about the drastically different visions that Joe Biden and Donald Trump have for our country, Trump supporters in Texas [Friday] instead decided to put our staff, surrogates, supporters, and others in harm’s way,” said Tariq Thowfeek, Texas communications director for the Biden campaign.

On Saturday night, Trump tweeted a video of the Trump supporters following the Biden bus saying, “I LOVE TEXAS!”

This was a dangerous and possibly criminal act that could have gotten people killed and the President of the United States is positively gleeful.

It does, however, seem that this was more Own The Libs for Lulz than an attempt at intimidation:

The tour, which started on Wednesday in Amarillo and went through East Texas, the Gulf Coast, along the Texas-Mexico border, and Central Texas faced protests of varying sizes along the way.

Friday’s campaign events started with a small gathering in Laredo that was met with few protesters. From there, staffers drove to San Antonio. Around 12:30 p.m. on Friday, a social media user using the hashtag #TrumpTrainTexas posted on Twitter, “Trolling is FUN.” The user called for other Trump supporters to “escort the Biden [bus] coming through San Antonio.”

Still, reading through the report, it appears that the idiots were swerving in and out of the caravan, causing multiple near misses, for miles before the collision ultimately occurred. Additionally, it now appears that the impact was relatively minor and between a Trumpist pickup truck and a car that was part of the Biden caravan rather than the bus itself.

The New York Times is more direct in its story, headlined “Vehicles flying Trump flags try to force a Biden-Harris campaign bus off a highway in Texas.”

Multiple vehicles bearing Trump flags and signs surrounded a Biden-Harris campaign bus heading from San Antonio to Austin on Friday, forcing campaign officials to scrap two campaign events, according to reports by Democratic officials on Saturday.

The vehicles surrounded the bus on busy Interstate 35 and appeared to be attempting to slow it down and force it to the side of the road, according to social media posts from witnesses and accounts by party activists. In one instance, the vehicles pulled in front of the bus and tried to stop in the middle of the highway.

Katie Naranjo, chair of the Travis County Democratic Party, tweeted that Trump supporters also “ran into a person’s car, yelling curse words and threats.” The bus was occupied by campaign staff workers, who notified local law enforcement, which assisted the vehicle in reaching its destination, party officials said.

There’s nothing in the report that definitively establishes intent to force the bus off the road. Or, indeed, that the bus went off the road. But, at the very least, we have multiple cases of reckless endangerment.

The Texas GOP issued a statement exhibiting roughly the same level of maturity as the yahoos harassing the caravan:

Abby Livingston from The Texas Tribune reached out to the RPT today and asked a question about a Biden campaign bus in her attempt to portray conservatives as violent radicals, even though it is leftists from Antifa and BLM who have been assaulting, robbing, and looting fellow citizens and their property.

Below is Chairman Allen West’s response:

“Three Trump supporters have been executed, one in Portland, one in Denver, and one Milwaukee. A leftist mob attempted to storm the house of the McCloskeys, threatened to burn their house down, rape Mrs. McCloskey, and then kill them both.

Where is the liberal corporate media’s concern about that real violence? Additionally, none of what your question implies is accurate. It is more fake news and propaganda.

Prepare to lose…stop bothering me. Maybe Soros can cut y’all another check in 2022.”

Just . . . wow.

UPDATE: Steven Taylor’s follow-up post, “It Was Intimidation,” includes this video that I hadn’t previously seen:

Given that the video cuts to the collision at the last second, it’s impossible to determine whether the driver of the truck intended to sideswipe the white SUV. But I would agree that, seeing it rather than simply reading the description, the whole encounter comes across as more menacing than just yahoos out for some laughs. They are clearly trying to make the Biden supporters afraid for what might happen next.

UPDATE II: As I commented on Steven’s thread, “That Texas Republicans, facing a major demographic shift, made Allen Freaking West the chairman of the party really speaks volumes. What a sorry excuse for a human being he is.”

There have been dozens of threads at OTB on West’s misdeeds. The first was 17 years ago, almost to the day. My July 2011 post, “Allen West is an Embarrassment,” is a pretty good roundup of his transgressions through that point.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Kathy says:

    Reconciliation?

    Not until they stop the abuse, threats, and intimidation.

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  2. Mikey says:

    These people are truly the worst of America.

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  3. gVOR08 says:

    Tom Levinson at Balloon Juice talks about MAGAts trying, and largely failing, to harass Dem HQ in Salem NH. I wonder how much of this sort of thing is going on around the country. I expect the MAGAts are feeling both white privilege and a lot of frustration.

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  4. Cheryl Rofer says:

    It does, however, seem that this was more Own The Libs for Lulz than an attempt at intimidation

    James, you infer a mindset here, while refusing to relative to the question of forcing the bus off the road, while ignoring the perception by one side of the incident.

    A bully might say it’s just “Own The Libs for Lulz.” The person whose car is hit while moving might feel it to be intimidation. As in the case of discrimination against women and others, do we just take what the bully says, or do we look at the effects?

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  5. MarkedMan says:

    I assume, being Texans, these Trumpers were armed. This could have ended even worse.

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  6. Moosebreath says:

    @Mikey:

    “These people are truly the worst of America.”

    The word “deplorable” comes to mind.

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  7. James Joyner says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    A bully might say it’s just “Own The Libs for Lulz.” The person whose car is hit while moving might feel it to be intimidation. As in the case of discrimination against women and others, do we just take what the bully says, or do we look at the effects?

    I think both can be true. Clearly, the Biden folks were rattled and felt that it was unsafe to hold the rallies under the circumstances. And that’s perfectly reasonable.

    Playing chicken with a campaign caravan—on an Interstate highway, no less—is just nuts. Whether it was just yahoos out for some fun or an intended act of intimidation probably doesn’t matter.

    I’ve rather befuddled that police escorts aren’t routine under the circumstances. I gather the campaign had to coordinate municipality-by-municipality for it and got a lot of cooperation. But, rather clearly, the Highway Patrol should have been on the case here to provide continuity of coverage.

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  8. Jax says:

    Makes you wonder what they would’ve done if they’d been successful in stopping the bus.

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  9. charon says:

    .
    https://twitter.com/redwins3_first/status/1322699901747236867

    96 Miles….Yes, you read that correctly, 96 Miles in AZ!

    We had a mini version of this in front of my house yesterday, a parade of cars honking their horns, showing off their Trump flags. Just fapping themselves basically, having fun, probably 90% of AZ has already voted.

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  10. charon says:

    https://twitter.com/EliteGamerHaven/status/1322017459059249152

    I just remembered this, the Lieutenant Governor of some red state, I forget which.

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  11. drj says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’ve rather befuddled that police escorts aren’t routine under the circumstances.

    This reads like an attempt to normalize what is – at least – terrorism-adjacent behavior.

    In normal democracies shit like this doesn’t happen.

    The fact that a police escort would have been necessary, indicates an unhealthy and outright dangerous breakdown in democractic norms. This is the kind of stuff that typically happens in the run-up to an authoritarian government takeover.

    If this would have happened somewhere else, you would have probably commented on the serious threat to democracy in this other faraway, podunk country where civilization never quite managed to take root.

    But because it happened in Texas, its just a bunch of “yahoos?”

    Come on…

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  12. Kevin McKenzie says:

    We’ve been seeing this here, in upstate New York, as well. Trump Trains. As far as I can tell, they’re taking a page out of the Westboro Baptist Church playbook, where they deliberately offend/inconvenience a lot of people, and then take umbrage when people get annoyed that they were, say, unexpectedly stuck in traffic for an hour.

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  13. charon says:

    The organizing:

    https://twitter.com/truthserum4all/status/1322229225714311170

    Join us in #SanAntonio to escort the Biden Bus coming through San Antonio.

    We are on the bridges & will intercept at Walters/I35!!

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  14. Cheryl Rofer says:

    @James Joyner: I am “rather befuddled” that the state police weren’t enforcing the laws against reckless driving.

    You are implicitly making a “two sides” argument. People should be able to drive on the highway safely, without fear of being run off by others who choose to disobey the law.

    The Trumpies, and possibly the state police if they were complicit, are at fault here. No excuses that they are simply “yahoos wanting to own the libs” or good old boys having some fun. Did they stop and offer to pay for the damage to the car, as decent people would if this were an accident? Haha, I think we know the answer to that. So intimidation it is, along with unlawful reckless driving.

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  15. Paine says:

    I lived in Texas for about 5 years. Food was good but I was very happy to get back to a solid blue state.

    That said, I miss In-n-Out Burger.

    Bri

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  16. DrDaveT says:

    This was a dangerous and possibly criminal act

    “Possibly”!? Jesus Christ, James. Listen to yourself.

    It does, however, seem that this was more Own The Libs for Lulz than an attempt at intimidation

    That is (A) for a court to decide, and (B) irrelevant to whether it was a crime.

    Imagine if this had been done by a horde of urban black youths to a Trump campaign vehicle in Houston. What, exactly, do you think the law enforcement response would have been? If you’re trying to be unbiased here, you should write your commentary as if that were what happened — because it OUGHT to be exactly the same response.

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  17. Joe says:

    @James Joyner:

    I think both can be true.

    But the ability of the truck drivers to view this as “harmless fun” and accuse the bus passengers of overreacting is the very entitled nature of bullying. The typical bully reaction: “we were just having some fun.” I suppose both the truck passengers and the bus passengers can have their own viewpoints, but there is some objective truth here. The much smaller and more agile trucks were seriously endangering the much larger, less agile and harder to drive bus. That is criminal behavior. In the context of a political motive, that is terrorism.

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  18. Scott F. says:

    I can’t imagine a more apt metaphor for this election.

    A group of people trying to get somewhere safely and together threatened by a bunch of people flouting their lawless individuality and thereby endangering not just themselves and those they directly hate, but everyone else just trying to go about their business. With Trump and Allen West cheering them on.

    Abhorrent. We have to have a Trumpism repudiating result on Tuesday. Even then, it will take years and years to quiet this malignancy that’s been emboldened by the Republicans. A close election or a Trump victory will have terrible consequences.

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  19. mattbernius says:

    @James Joyner:

    But, rather clearly, the Highway Patrol should have been on the case here to provide continuity of coverage.

    I mean, you’re being way to hard on the police. I mean it wasn’t like the Trump trucks were peacefully marching to vote or anything that really deserved a head-cracking.

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  20. James Joyner says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    You are implicitly making a “two sides” argument. People should be able to drive on the highway safely, without fear of being run off by others who choose to disobey the law.

    Well, sure. I said that in the OP. There’s no “both sides” here: the Biden folks were driving down the highway en route to exercising their First Amendment rights and the Trump folks were, at the very best, recklessly endangering them for sport.

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  21. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    “for sport” is the tell.

    This was political terrorism.

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  22. When I was 14, I was a bit late getting dressed for PE, and walked out of the locker room to be kicked in the balls, for no reason, by a classmate. I writhed on the ground for a bit with him standing there. I eventually managed to crawl back into the locker room and recover. The person who did it was someone I thought of as a friend. We rode the bus together, we chatted. Not a good friend, but a friend.

    At a high-school reunion I asked him why he did it. I had no idea. We weren’t fighting. I hadn’t insulted him. His reply was, “you sure looked funny!”

    Just because someone thinks its “funny” doesn’t justify anything.

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  23. Robert in SF says:

    @James Joyner:

    https://cbsaustin.com/news/local/president-trump-tweets-i-love-texas-along-with-video-of-trucks-surrounding-biden-bus

    According to Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler, the Biden campaign did not notify his office that it would be passing through the county to allow law enforcement to prepare for any possible confrontations. “The planning of this was questionable,” said Cutler, a Republican running for reelection on Tuesday.

    Seems like the Sheriff may be victim blaming here a little…sure they gotta know it’s coming to be there for support, and not just rely on patrols to catch it, but still…But to say that “confrontations” are somehow the job of the victim to pre-address? So should every person walking somewhere alert the police ahead of time, so the police can “prepare for any possible [robberies or assaults]?”

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  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Whether it was just yahoos out for some fun or an intended act of intimidation probably doesn’t matter.

    Yeah. It matters a lot. On that I’ll disagree with you. If this was an act of intimidation, and I’m inclined to go with a yes on that, the Texas Highway Patrol not responding to it even without a request from the campaign seems like dereliction of duty to me. But then, I’ve become one of the guys whose gone back to my childhood days of seeing law enforcement as just a bunch of uniformed thugs, so dereliction of their duty doesn’t surprise me at all. The Highway Patrol may well be “Yahoo Central” in this situation.

    The revolution may not get televised, but it’ll show up on YouTube.

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  25. de stijl says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Dude is a sociopath. Childhood is brutal. School is where the bullies are.

    Everyone infantalizes kids. Innocence my butt. Kids have to be wicked smart to navigate a minefield of pain and bullying and overt rejection. You are not cool enough to be in our clubhouse.

    Childhood is trauma.

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  26. James Joyner says:

    @Robert in SF:

    But to say that “confrontations” are somehow the job of the victim to pre-address?

    I think it’s just standard operating procedure at this point for both parties. There’s a reason serious candidates for President and Vice President get Secret Service protection. Hell, college football coaches have had State Trooper escorts as far back as I can remember.

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  27. Robert in SF says:

    @James Joyner:

    I think it’s just standard operating procedure at this point for both parties. There’s a reason serious candidates for President and Vice President get Secret Service protection.

    I don’t disagree overall, but just as a reminder, these were not the candidate buses, just campaign buses. A perhaps too-fine a point to alter the conclusion of practical considerations for campaign coordination with local representatives for planning. Still, the tone rings that somehow being accosted *during transit* is to be expected (due to being deserved?) is maybe a bridge too far? Would he have said the same for a Trump/Pence campaign bus in a less-“confrontational” scenario?

    But maybe I am looking for offense…

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  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Joyner:

    Hell, college football coaches have had State Trooper escorts as far back as I can remember.

    I’m betting that they don’t have to make a request from the State Troopers to get them though. 🙁 And I am will leave you the out to take at his word the county sheriff who said “I didn’t know they were coming” (even though the protesters seemed to) if you really want to go there.

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  29. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Robert in SF: One of the links seemed to show that at least some protesters thought that Ms. Harris was on the bus they were swarming. Too lazy to search it out, though. The main point for me is that police appear to have had a duty to perform and didn’t. Not that unusual anymore. 🙁

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  30. CSK says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    This is exactly the sort of thing Donald Trump would have done when he was in high school–and probably did, to someone smaller and weaker.

    This isn’t humor; it’s sadism, which weakling bullies revel in.

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  31. mattbernius says:

    @mattbernius:

    I mean, you’re being way to hard on the police. I mean it wasn’t like the Trump trucks were peacefully marching to vote or anything that really deserved a head-cracking.

    Lest anyone explain this away due to the march “blocking the street”, please note the number of Trump rallies that have been actively shutting down bridges and highways today.

    But those folks are white so they get a pass.

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  32. R. Dave says:

    OP wrote: Whether it was just yahoos out for some fun or an intended act of intimidation probably doesn’t matter.

    I’m not sure what distinction you think there is here. As with all bullies/thugs, intimidating their target is the “fun” their out to get.

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  33. Jay L Gischer says:

    I have driven down the freeway for half an hour or more without seeing any state troopers many, many times. So absent any more details, I’m inclined to cut the sheriff and/or Texas Rangers some slack.

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  34. bruce paterson says:

    Looking at that vid around 10 seconds in, you can see that white car was trying to insert itself in the space between the back of the bus and the front of the truck. The truck then slowly being pushed onto the shoulder since he didnt want a fender bender. No one was giving ground so…. The truck obviously not being a happy camper decided to push the white car back into the middle lane from where it came originally. Verdict-white car was obviously at fault, but if the police were to write it up, they would say neither was at fault.

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