Warren campaign: Effort to link her to Dayton shooter a distraction from Trump's 'direct line' to El Paso killings

Warren campaign: Effort to link her to Dayton shooter a distraction from Trump's 'direct line' to El Paso killings
© Greg Nash

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenArizona Democratic Party executive board censures Sinema Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Biden stiff arms progressives on the Postal Service MORE’s (D-Mass.) presidential campaign is calling efforts to paint the mass shooter in Dayton, Ohio, as a Warren supporter an “attempt to distract” from the “direct line” between President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver dead at 77 Biden, Democrats losing ground with independent and suburban voters: poll Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law MORE’s rhetoric and a separate mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.

“There is absolutely no place for violence in our politics and Elizabeth and our campaign condemn it in the strongest possible terms,” Kristen Orthman, a spokesperson for the Warren campaign, said in a statement on Tuesday.

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“Leaders have a responsibility to speak out and to not incite violence. But let’s be clear – there is a direct line between the president’s rhetoric and the stated motivations of the El Paso shooter. This is an attempt to distract from the fact that Trump’s rhetoric is inciting violence as extremist-related murders have spiked 35 percent from 2017 to 2018,” she added.

A Twitter account that is believed to belong to Connor Betts, the 24-year-old who is alleged to have shot and killed nine people in Dayton over the weekend, has tweeted supportive messages for Warren and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPoll: Trump leads 2024 Republican field with DeSantis in distant second The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden faces Ukraine decision amid Russia aggression The Hill's Morning Report - US warns Kremlin, weighs more troops to Europe MORE (I-Vt.) as well as content promoting the left-wing group antifa.

However, there is no evidence to suggest that the Dayton attack was politically motivated.

Betts’s sister was among the victims of the shooting rampage, and Betts was said to be obsessed with graphic violence. In high school, Betts allegedly kept a “hit list” of students and school officials he said he wanted to kill or rape.

Still, some Republicans, such as Texas Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenators huddle on Russia sanctions as tensions escalate Momentum builds for new COVID-19 relief for businesses Senate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products MORE, have sought to highlight Betts’s left-wing politics.

“The Dayton killer was a left-winger, but don’t blame Sen. Warren,” Cornyn tweeted.

Orthman responded by retweeting a message from political operative Stuart Stevens, who said, “I’d blame Senator Warren if she had been using violent rhetoric and trying to score political points and raise money stoking fears about an invasion. She’s not. You know the difference. Why carry water for Donald Trump, a man you know is an idiot?”

The back-and-forth comes as Democrats blame Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric for a separate mass shooting in El Paso over the weekend that resulted in 22 deaths.

Patrick Crusius, the alleged El Paso shooter, wrote a manifesto in which he said he was motivated by a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

That language mirrors rhetoric Trump has used to describe immigrants coming into the country illegally, although the alleged shooter said he formed some of his beliefs before Trump was elected.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Tuesday it is irresponsible of Democrats to assign blame to anyone but the shooter, arguing that Trump is not blaming Warren or Sanders for the deaths in Dayton.

"It’s been confirmed overnight by CNN and others that it looks like this Dayton monster, the shooter in Ohio, had leftist leanings and a Twitter feed that was complimentary of antifa, complimentary of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders,” White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne ConwayPennsylvania Republican David McCormick launches Senate campaign McCormick drawing support from Trump alumni ahead of Pennsylvania Senate bid Christie says Trump, Meadows should have warned him of positive COVID-19 test MORE said. “Am I blaming them for the shooting? Of course not."