Michael Moore praises O'Rourke on gun reform

Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore praised former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) for not wavering on his calls for a mandatory gun buyback program for assault-style weapons.

O’Rourke faced backlash from both sides of the aisle for his strong rhetoric during last month’s Democratic primary debate for saying, “hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, AK-47.” 

But Moore defended the presidential hopeful for having the courage to stand up for his convictions, noting that the Democratic Party should do the same. 

“We need to have some courage,” Moore, who has endorsed Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden's policies are playing into Trump's hands Hillicon Valley: Amazon wins union election — says 'our employees made the choice' On The Money: Biden .5T budget proposes major hike in social programs | GOP bashes border, policing provisions MORE (I-Vt.) for the 2020 nomination, said during an interview that aired Saturday. “No Republican had ever said it, but no Democrat had ever said it. Beto O’Rourke was the first to say we’re coming for your AR-15s.”

Moore maintained that Democrats shouldn’t have gone after O’Rourke for the remarks, arguing that his proposed gun buyback program would be supported by Democratic voters.

“Democrats went there to trash Beto O’Rourke for saying that, but if you watch the debate, it is the only moment where the audience flew out of their chairs and erupted in a standing ovation because that’s what the people want,” he told Hill.TV. 

Earlier this month O’Rourke hit back at fellow 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBiden to meet Monday with bipartisan lawmakers about infrastructure Jill Biden gives shout out to Champ, Major on National Pet Day Buttigieg on exaggerated infrastructure jobs estimate: 'I should have been more precise' MORE after the South Bend, Ind., mayor accused O'Rourke of picking a fight with him over the merits of a gun buyback program in order to stay relevant.

“Pete can belittle the grassroots; he can call buybacks a 'shiny object.' He can say whatever he wants, but guns kill 40,000 people each year,” O’Rourke tweeted in response to Buttigieg's comments. “Those people deserve action. I’ll be fighting for them.”

O’Rourke’s average support on polling aggregate site RealClearPolitics is 2.3 percent behind entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangEvelyn Yang pens children's book on sexual abuse, reveals she was sexually assaulted as a child Yang pitches plan to revive Broadway, live performances in New York Yang returns to campaign trail following kidney stone MORE at 2.5 percent and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden to meet Monday with bipartisan lawmakers about infrastructure Pelosi planned on retiring until Trump won election: report How Kamala Harris can find the solution for the migration crisis MORE (D-Calif.) at 5.3 percent.

The former Texas congressman has yet to qualify for next month’s Democratic debate in Atlanta. To make the stage, candidates have to garner support from at least 165,000 unique donors and register at least 3 percent in four qualifying polls or 5 percent in two early-state polls by Nov. 13.

—Tess Bonn