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Two people asked to take down the American and Texas flags before a campaign rally in Navasota, Texas, but whether they were with the candidate’s campaign is unclear.
Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke held a town hall at the Navasota Veterans of Foreign Wars post on Aug. 25. O’Rourke is looking to unseat one-term incumbent and 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2018 midterm election.
The Navasota Examiner article about the rally quoted the VFW post commander Carl Dry about a request he says he received while the O’Rourke campaign was setting up for the event.
"They wanted to open the doors (to the Flight Deck Lounge), and I couldn’t allow that, and they wanted to take the flags down. I didn’t only say no, I said hell no, you don’t take the flags off the wall," Dry is quoted saying in the newspaper. "I can’t believe any American would ask us to do that, and I don’t know why he wanted them down or what he was going to put up instead."
Websites such as TopStoriesUSA.com picked up Dry’s quote in early September, saying that the O’Rourke campaign had made the flag removal request and that the request showed a theme of the campaign’s "aversion to the American flag" and patriotic symbols.
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TopStoriesUSA.com editor Vic Medina attributed the content of the site’s story "Beto O’Rourke Campaign told Texas VFW to remove their American flag" to The Examiner report.
"Dry does not identify specifically who on O'Rourke's campaign made the request, or if O'Rourke himself made the request of him," Medina said.
The O’Rourke campaign didn't respond to our inquiry, but the campaign has denied making the request to remove the flags before the rally.
"Our campaign absolutely did not request that any flags be removed or taken down from the walls," campaign spokesman Chris Evans wrote in an email to the Bryan-College Station Eagle newspaper. "It is incorrect to say that we did. We have hosted dozens of town halls in VFW posts across the state, and always ensure that the flags are prominently and respectfully displayed."
Dry told us two people, about 10 minutes apart, asked him to remove the American and Texas flags before the event. He said they were not wearing name tags or other identifiers related to the O’Rourke campaign.
Dry said he assumed the two individuals were part of the campaign because they came to him from the room where the event was being held and returned to it after he told the first "no," and the second "hell, no."
"I had to assume they were Mr. O’Rourke’s campaign people," Dry said. "Whether they were or not, I don’t know. I did not ask."
The TopStoriesUSA.com story also speculates that "there seems to be an aversion to the American flag and symbols of patriotism" with O’Rourke’s campaign and that the event "was attracting some that might have been offended to see the American and Texas flags on display behind O’Rourke."
O’Rourke’s campaign is not distancing itself from the American flag. The most prominent image on the campaign website’s homepage is a photo of O’Rourke, with the American flag behind him. He performed at a July 4 concert this year with Willie Nelson in front of the flag. There are also numerous photos and videos on social media of him speaking in front of the American and Texas flags from other events this summer.
It’s not unreasonable to assume, as Dry did, that the people who asked to "take down" the American flags at the Aug. 25 rally were from the O’Rourke campaign. But it is an assumption, and furthermore it’s not clear why they were asking: It’s possible they wanted to move them to another location or feature them in some other way. We can say that the campaign definitely does not show an "aversion" to the flag or to patriotic symbols, as it has used them in many other settings. We rate this claim Mostly False.
TopStoriesUSA.com, "Beto O’Rourke Campaign Told Texas VFW to Remove Their American Flag," Sept. 7, 2018
Navasota Examiner, "Country watching Cruz, Beto race," Sept. 5, 2018
Phone interview, Carl Dry, commander, Navasota Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4006, Sept. 10, 2018
Email interview, Vic Medina, editor, TopStoriesUSA.com, Sept. 10, 2018
The Eagle, "O'Rourke campaign: We never asked to remove flags at Navasota VFW," Sept. 8, 2018
Rolling Stone, "See Congressman Beto O’Rourke Jam With Willie Nelson at 4th of July Picnic," July 5, 2018
Beto O’Rourke, tweet, Aug. 31, 2018
Beto O’Rourke, tweet, Aug. 25, 2018
Beto O’Rourke, tweet, Aug. 22, 2018
Beto O’ Rourke, tweet, July 17, 2018
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