Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) delivered a powerful condemnation of President Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric on Saturday, again linking it to last week’s El Paso, Texas, shooting in which a gunman targeted Mexicans, killing 22 people and injuring dozens more.
“People say to me, ‘Did Donald Trump cause those folks to be killed?’ Well, no, of course he didn’t pull the trigger, but he’s certainly been tweeting out the ammunition,” the 2020 hopeful said at the Presidential Gun Sense Forum hosted by Everytown for Gun Safety in Des Moines, Iowa.
Trump’s rhetoric has been widely condemned by Democratic candidates after it was reported the the shooter allegedly posted a white supremacist manifesto on 8chan, an online haven for extremists, minutes before carrying out his attack at a Walmart on August 3.
The four-page xenophobic screed warned of “the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” decried “race-mixing” and called the shooting a defense against “ethnic replacement.”
“We need a president of the United States who ... understands that one of her greatest powers is to use the microphone in a way that is about not beating people down, but lifting people up,” she said.
Harris went on to call Trump’s remarks following the El Paso shooting “empty gestures,” arguing that he threw away an opportunity to seriously address gun violence and use his party’s dominance in the Senate to pass much needed reform.
“I say put your money where your mouth is for all these people,” she said, demanding an end to the “thoughts and prayers” offered by politicians after mass shootings and instead calling upon them to “act on it.”
In the wake of the shooting ― which was followed hours later by another massacre in downtown Dayton, Ohio, where a gunman killed nine people ― Trump proposed on Twitter that lawmakers consider “marrying” background check legislation with immigration reform, prompting backlash from Democrats who swiftly rejected the idea.
On Monday, he urged the nation in a televised statement to “condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” though he made no mention of his role in encouraging those ideologies to proliferate.
Trump tweeted Friday that “serious discussions” were occurring in Congress on “meaningful Background Checks,” but did not detail what that might entail. At the same time, he reassured the National Rifle Association that its views would be “fully represented and respected.”