The tweet from the GOP’s official Twitter account featured an image of O’Rourke’s mug shot from a 1998 drunk-driving arrest. The former Democratic representative was charged with DWI at age 26 when he crashed into a truck on an interstate.
The mug shot in the tweet was photoshopped to include a cartoon leprechaun hat over his head and a placard across his chest that read, “PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY.” Along with the image, the GOP tweeted the message, “On this St. Paddy’s Day, a special message from noted Irishman Robert Francis O’Rourke.”
When O’Rourke challenged Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) in the 2018 midterm election, Republicans often criticized O’Rourke for going by “Beto,” a childhood nickname that stuck, rather than Robert.
The message spread quickly on Twitter, with many users, even fellow Republicans, expressing their disdain for the tweet. Michigan Rep. Justin Amash (R) tweeted the GOP should “do better” and “be better.”
Other users criticized the tweet.
O’Rourke responded to the tweet while campaigning in Milwaukee on Sunday. “People want to focus on the big picture, on our goals,” he told a group of reporters. “They want us to be defined not by this pettiness or the personal attacks we see ... They want us to be defined by our ambitions and aspirations.”
Despite criticism, the GOP’s official Twitter account followed up the tweet with another one bashing the former representative’s congressional record.