Following the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, by a man who espoused racist and anti-immigrant views, Democratic presidential candidate and El Paso native Beto O’Rourke has repeatedly blamed Donald Trump for the heinous act that took the lives of over 20 people and injured dozens more. After a few days of O’Rourke condemning Trump in interviews and online, the president finally responded Tuesday, prompting more blame from the presidential hopeful.
Within hours of the massacre at the hands of what police believe is a white supremacist, O’Rourke began laying the blame squarely on Trump for his rhetoric on illegal immigrants. The president, O’Rourke told CNN Saturday, is trying to make Americans “afraid” of immigrants, casting Mexicans as “rapists and criminals” and “attempting to ban all Muslims from this country” — a reference to Trump’s “travel ban” that placed restrictions on a handful of Muslim-majority countries that are high risks for terrorism (designated as such by the Obama administration).
“President Trump’s racism does not just offend our sensibilities; it fundamentally changes the character of this country. And it leads to violence,” O’Rourke tweeted Saturday along with video of his interview with CNN.
By Sunday, O’Rourke was openly declaring Trump a “white nationalist” and widened the blame to include Fox News. The former representative has since suggested that everyone agrees with him that Trump is the reason for the terror attack. “We know what Trump is doing. He stokes racism. He incites violence. We shouldn’t be asking if there’s anything he can do or if he’s responsible for this when we know the answer. I stand by what I said,” he wrote Monday (tweets below).
O’Rourke also tweeted in reference to Trump calling for “desperately needed immigration reform,” that backing immigration reform is siding with the terrorist: “Only a racist, driven by fear, could witness what took place this weekend — and instead of standing up to hatred, side with a mass murderer’s call to make our country more white. We are so much better than this president.”
When Trump announced that he’d be visiting both Dayton and El Paso, O’Rourke said he’s not welcome. “This president, who helped create the hatred that made Saturday’s tragedy possible, should not come to El Paso. We do not need more division. We need to heal. He has no place here,” he wrote Monday.
Trump responded directly to O’Rourke on Tuesday, suggesting that he uses his “phony” nickname “Beto” — which O’Rourke’s family gave him as a child — as a way to “indicate Hispanic heritage” and telling him to “respect the victims & law enforcement — & be quiet!”
O’Rourke responded by again blaming Trump for the horrific massacre and aligning his own voice with El Paso’s: “22 people in my hometown are dead after an act of terror inspired by your racism. El Paso will not be quiet and neither will I.”
While O’Rourke has acknowledged the tragic Dayton shooting, he has not addressed the fact that reports indicate that the terrorist was a radical leftist who was a critic of Trump. His public comments have also largely ignored Trump’s statement Monday condemning white supremacy and all forms of racism.
More of O’Rourke’s Trump-focused tweets below: