Fort Worth rodeo to draw high-profile Trump supporters with ‘America first’ vision

A Fort Worth rodeo on Wednesday will deliver a direct message to those in attendance: “America first.”

The event, sponsored by the America First Policy Institute, will mix traditional rodeo events, such as bull riding and barrel racing, with a conservative pep rally and country music concert.

Featured speakers include a who’s who of conservative leaders, from Vivek Ramaswamy, who ran an unsuccessful bid for the GOP presidential nomination before endorsing former President Donald Trump, to Kellyanne Conway, former senior counselor to Trump.

But Brooke Rollins, founder and CEO of the policy institute, said the rodeo at Cowtown Coliseum will not promote particular candidates but rather a vision.

“We won’t be saying ‘Vote for so and so,’” said Rollins, who served as chief strategist in the Trump administration and lives with her family in Fort Worth. “How do we open up this America First movement to everyone, whether they are CEO of a major company or an electrician who loves America?”

The organization, which is hosting its annual policy summit in Fort Worth, calls itself a nonpartisan research institute working to advance policies that put the American people first. Its members champion a secure border with wall, private school vouchers, lower taxes, deregulation, pro-life laws and traditional family values.

Throughout his presidency, Trump described his approach as “America first,” popularizing a slogan first used by those who wanted the U.S. to stay out of World War II.

“From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land,” Trump said at his 2017 inauguration. “From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first.”

Wednesday’s rodeo, called “Coaching America Back to Greatness,” is a twist on Trump’s signature slogan, “Make America Great Again,” and will include appearances by two well-known coaches: Lou Holtz, a retired football coach for Notre Dame and the University of South Carolina, and Joe Kennedy, a former Seattle-area coach put on paid leave from a Seattle-area school for praying with students at football games. The Supreme Court later ruled 6-3 in Kennedy’s favor.

Roughly 2,000 people are expected to attend the rodeo, which could help energize Republicans ahead of the November election. Of the 20 most populous cities in the U.S., Fort Worth is one of only two led by Republican mayors. The other is Dallas, where Mayor Eric Johnson announced he was switching parties in 2023.

Tarrant County is also the most populous Republican-leaning county in Texas, and Republicans have vowed to keep it red. In 2016, the county voted for Trump over Hillary Clinton. Just two years later, Tarrant voters chose Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who is running for governor in 2022, over Cruz. And in 2020, the county flipped blue and voted for President Joe Biden.

Rollins said the city could serve as a model for other large U.S. cities.

“There is no doubt you can’t make America great again until you make big urban cities great again,” she said. “Fort Worth isn’t perfect, but it is a model of good governance.”

Catharine Cypher, deputy chief of staff for the institute, said she expects the rodeo to draw attendees from both political parties.

“It’s not about left or right,” said Cypher, a former speech writer for First lady Melania Trump. “Let’s leave our politics aside and do what’s best for America.”


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