Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) was at a loss for words when caught off-guard by a reporter after a vigil for the El Paso, Texas mass shooting victims.
When a journalist asked O’Rourke — who is also one of roughly two dozen Democratic presidential candidates — if there was “anything in [his] mind that the president can do now to make this any better,” O’Rourke spoke in a matter more frank than Americans are used to hearing from the typically reserved politician.
“What do you think? You know the shit he’s been saying. He’s been calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. I don’t know, like, members of the press, what the fuck?” O’Rourke said. “You know, it’s these questions that you know the answers to. I mean, connect the dots about what he’s been doing in this country. He’s not tolerating racism, he’s promoting racism. He’s not tolerating violence, he’s inciting racism and violence in this country.”
“So, um, you know, I just, I don’t know what kind of question that is,” O’Rourke added.
I didn’t get video, but here’s audio of the question and Beto O’Rourke’s answer. This came after an emotional vigil in El Paso, as O’Rourke circled behind a building looking for his wife. pic.twitter.com/VBk8xoE1lz
— Eric Bradner (@ericbradner) August 5, 2019
O’Rourke hails from El Paso, and has spoken proudly of his city’s reputation for being one of the safest in the country (“not despite but because it’s a city of immigrants“) during both Democratic presidential debates. After last weekend’s deadly mass shooting in which 20 people were killed, O’Rourke suspended his campaign to return to El Paso to grieve the families of those killed with members of his community.
President Trump denounced the shooting in a tweet as an “unspeakable act of evil” and called for flags to be at half-staff in honor of those killed both in El Paso and in a separate shooting in Dayton, Ohio in which nine were killed. However, O’Rourke asking journalists to “connect the dots” to the violence and Trump’s rhetoric is fair, given that Trump has referred to the undocumented immigrants in the United States as “an invasion of our country” and the gunman behind the the El Paso shooting wrote a manifesto referring to the “Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
Trump’s attacks on Hispanic immigrants date back to at least 2015, when then-candidate Trump kicked off his presidential campaign in New York by calling Mexican immigrants “drug dealers” and “rapists.” Even outside of the U.S., mass shooters have carried out their hatred after giving a nod to Trump. The perpetrator of the massacre at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand earlier this year called President Trump “a symbol of renewed white identity.”
(Grit Post‘s editorial policy is to not publish the names and/or likenesses of mass shooters and domestic terrorists in order to deprive them of the notoriety they often seek. We encourage all other outlets to do the same.)
(Featured image: Luke Harold/Wikimedia Commons)
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.