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O'Rourke: Trump is a 'racist,' responsible for El Paso shooting

Former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeTexas Dems highlight health care in fight to flip state House Union leader vows 'infrequent' minority voters will help deliver Biden victory Jimmy Carter says his son smoked pot with Willie Nelson on White House roof MORE (D-Texas) said Saturday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: 'The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it' Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE bears some responsibility for a shooting in El Paso, Texas, that killed at least 20 people.

Asked by news reporters whether the president was at all responsible for the shooting, O'Rourke, who formerly served on the El Paso City Council and as mayor pro tem, responded firmly.

"Yes. 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," O'Rourke said Saturday evening.

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"He is a racist, and he stokes racism in this country," the former congressman and current 2020 candidate for president continued. "It does not just offend our sensibilities; it fundamentally changes the character of this country, and it leads to violence."

O'Rourke's statement came after politicians from both parties, including Trump, expressed their condolences following the shooting Saturday that injured as many as 20 people and killed at least 18, according to media reports.

Texas officials confirmed that the suspect, identified as a 21-year-old male from the Dallas area, was the author of a racist and anti-immigrant screed that appeared on the website 8chan before the attack.

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), denounced the shooting as an act of "white terrorism" in a statement Saturday shortly before O'Rourke's remarks.