Democratic White House candidate Beto O’Rourke on Saturday blamed Donald Trump in part for the deadly El Paso shooting that killed 22 people because he said the president’s “racism” leads “to violence.”
O’Rourke criticized Trump when he was asked by an ABC News reporter if Trump bore any responsibility for the violence in El Paso.
“Yes,” O’Rourke flatly responded.
“We’ve had a rise in hate crimes every single one of the last three years, during an administration where you have a president who’s called Mexicans rapists and criminals,” said the former Texas congressman and El Paso native. He referred to Trump’s rhetorical attacks on Mexicans when the New Yorker announced his presidential candidacy in June 2015.
Trump “is a racist, and he stokes racism in this country,” O’Rourke said.” It does not just offend our sensibilities; it fundamentally changes the character of this country and it leads to violence.″
There was no immediate response from the president.
Trump, who on Saturday was at his New Jersey golf course, tweeted “heartfelt thoughts and prayers” to the “great people of Texas” Saturday night, several hours after the late-morning shooting.
Earlier, the president retweeted a USA Today headline noting that he “pledges full support for El Paso shooting victims.”
Twitter critics were eager to remind Trump that he has done nothing about gun control — and that his attacks on immigrants and people of color may have fueled the violence.
Another mass shooting occurred in Dayton, Ohio, early Sunday morning in which nine people were killed and 26 injured. Police said they killed the assailant shortly after he began firing.
Roughly seven hours after this spasm of violence, Trump tweeted:
This story has been updated with Trump’s tweet that mentions Dayton. It was also updated after the death toll increased Monday morning.