Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) spoke out Sunday about the El Paso, Texas, shooting in which the suspected gunman ― a 21-year-old white man who may have shared a white supremacist manifesto online before the attack ― killed at least 22 people at a Walmart, injuring about two dozen more.
“As the son of a Cuban immigrant, I am deeply horrified by the hateful anti-Hispanic bigotry expressed in the shooter’s so-called ‘manifesto,’” Cruz tweeted. “This ignorant racism is repulsive and profoundly anti-American.”
The senator then called Saturday’s violence “a heinous act of terrorism and white supremacy,” calling on the nation to “speak clearly to combat evil in any form it takes.”
Cruz’s statement ― unlike those of several Democratic presidential candidates ― made no reference to racist and xenophobic remarks routinely made by President Donald Trump, which have been widely condemned on the left while the GOP has remained overwhelmingly silent.
Federal authorities are treating Saturday’s shooting as an act of domestic terrorism and said the suspect may face hate crime charges. They are investigating a manifesto posted online shortly before the attack, which may have been written by the gunman. It decries a “Hispanic invasion of Texas,” labeling immigrants as “instigators” and warning against “race-mixing.”
“I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion,” the four-page screed reads.
In an ABC News interview Saturday, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), an El Paso native who launched an unsuccessful bid for Cruz’s seat in 2018 and is now running for president, condemned Trump as a “racist” who “stokes racism in this country,” linking his rhetoric to the violence.
On Sunday, O’Rourke told CNN, “We’ve got to acknowledge the hatred, the open racism that we’re seeing.”
“There is an environment of it in the United States,” he continued. “We see it on Fox News, we see it on the internet, but we also see it from our commander in chief. He is encouraging this. He doesn’t just tolerate it, he encourages it.”
Last month, Cruz neglected to directly renounce Trump’s racist attacks on four lawmakers of color ― Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) ― whom the president urged to “go back” to “the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
All are American citizens. All were also born in the U.S. with the exception of Omar, who emigrated from Somalia as a child.
Though the president’s comments were widely rebuked by Democrats, Cruz was one of numerous Republicans who said nothing.
That Trump statement was just one example of the many displays of bigotry that have punctuated his presidency. Most recently, he launched a spate of attacks on Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and his majority-black district, which Trump described as a “rodent infested mess.”
In addition to calling out racism since the shooting, Democratic lawmakers have also been demanding gun control measures. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), another 2020 hopeful, told CNN on Sunday that if elected, she would give Congress 100 days to get legislation on her desk, or she would take executive action to implement background checks and ban the importation of assault weapons. She would also seek to revoke licenses from gun dealers who violate the law.
Meanwhile, Cruz, who reaps hefty campaign contributions from his cozy relationship with the National Rifle Association, has made no such promises, even after a second mass shooting of the weekend occurred Sunday in Dayton, Ohio, in which a gunman killed nine people and injured 27.
According to data from OpenSecrets, an initiative of the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics, during the 2018 election cycle, only one candidate, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), received more NRA money than Cruz.
OpenSecrets’ running tally of NRA donations last updated in April shows that by that month, Cruz had received a career total of $176,274 from the NRA, which has given him an A-plus rating.
This story has been updated after the death toll increased Monday morning.