Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker endorses Nikki Haley for president at Stockyards rally

Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker bucked the trend of most prominent Texas politicians by endorsing former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley for president.

Parker introduced Haley at a packed rally Monday at Tannehill’s Tavern in the Stockyards. She called the former South Carolina governor’s message a hopeful vision for the future.

“Each of you are here because you’re voting for someone, not against the status quo,” Parker said. She called Haley inspirational, adding that Haley inspires people to be better together.

Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn and several North Texas congressional representatives support former President Donald Trump.

However, prominent Fort Worth Republicans including Parker, former Mayor Betsy Price, and former Fort Worth city council member Steve Murrin have all shown support for Haley.

Price, who spoke to the Star-Telegram before introducing Haley at a February event in Dallas, said Haley is more of a public servant than a politician.

“I’m just really not sure we need somebody that’s got all that baggage,” Price said.

Haley’s visit to Fort Worth comes on the eve of Super Tuesday, where 15 states, including Texas, will hold primary elections.

Haley trails Trump by a tally of 244 delegates to 43. They each need 1,215 delegates to win the nomination.

She’s also behind Trump in the latest University of Houston poll, with 80% supporting Trump and 19% supporting Haley.

Still, people at Monday’s rally said they are supporting Haley for her ability to bring people together. Several blamed Trump for divisions in the Republican party and argued that Haley would stand a better chance of beating President Joe Biden in the general election in November.

Cathy Hartman, 66, said she supported Trump in 2016 at a time when the country needed his style of what she called raw truth.

“I think it’s kind of falling on deaf ears now. It’s not sexy anymore,” Hartman said.

Patrice Lucas, a retired nurse from Fort Worth, was more blunt in her assessment of Trump.

“I don’t want someone who is old and facing jail time, and it would be nice if someone could speak in complete sentences,” Lucas said.

She also said she’s tired of the toxic political culture embodied by Trump, who often focuses on bashing his political opponents rather than talking about policy to make the country better.

Haley picked up on that point in her stump speech, referencing the way Trump lashed out at her after she secured 43% of the vote in the New Hampshire Republican primary.

“All he’s doing is talking about himself, and the thing is, this isn’t about him. This is about the American people,” Haley said, drawing booming applause from the roughly 1,000 people gathered Monday.

Haley’s speech was interrupted at least a dozen times by protesters calling for a ceasefire in Israel’s war against Hamas. While the crowd chanted her name to drown out the protesters, Haley urged her supporters to be civil.

“My husband and his military brothers and sisters sacrifice every day for their right to be able to (protest),” she said.

Haley ended her speech with a call to normalcy. Biden calling his opponents fascists and Trump calling his opponents vermin is not normal, Haley said.

She noted that many young Americans can’t afford to buy a house and believe their children will be worse off.

“If you join this movement, if you make your voices heard, I promise you our best days are yet to come,” she said.