O'Rourke tears into Trump ahead of El Paso visit

Former Texas Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeTexas Republican criticizes Cruz for Cancun trip: 'When a crisis hits my state, I'm there' Progressives target 'Cancun Cruz' in ad to run on 147 Texas radio stations 'Get off TV': Critics blast Abbott over handling of Texas power outages following winter storm MORE (D) sharply criticized President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new tranche of endorsements DeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll Lawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food MORE at a campaign rally Wednesday in El Paso, shortly before the president is expected to visit the city in the wake of a mass shooting on Saturday that left 22 people dead.

O'Rourke, a 2020 presidential candidate who represented El Paso as its mayor pro tem and as a representative in Congress, accused the president of vilifying Hispanic communities such as El Paso.


"We live in a country that is not safe, that refuses to pass laws to end gun violence in the United States," O'Rourke said Wednesday. "We have a president who demonizes communities like this one, who vilifies immigrants, who says that those from Mexico are rapists and criminals and warns of invasions and infestations."

"So no matter how special we are, we [in El Paso] cannot separate ourselves from the rest of this country," he continued. "And at one point or another, and for us it was on Saturday, that violence, that intolerance, and that inaction ... will find us. And it did."

O'Rourke's remarks came after he told reporters at a press conference over the weekend that he believed Trump bears at least part of the blame for the shooting. O'Rourke, speaking after Saturday's shooting, cited the suspected shooter's alleged anti-immigrant manifesto that was posted to 8chan before the attack.

"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 following the shooting.

"He is a racist, and he stokes racism in this country," O'Rourke continued. "It does not just offend our sensibilities; it fundamentally changes the character of this country, and it leads to violence."

The suspected El Paso shooter allegedly wrote a white nationalist manifesto ahead of his attack in the area near the U.S.-Mexico border, and many Democrats have pointed to the president's rhetoric as encouraging violence.

On Monday, O'Rourke said he thought Trump would not be welcome in the city following the massacre.

“This president, who helped create the hatred that made Saturday's tragedy possible, should not come to El Paso,” he tweeted. “We do not need more division. We need to heal. He has no place here.”

Trump, in response, tweeted that O'Rourke was "embarrassed" by his last visit to Texas.

"Beto (phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage) O’Rourke, who is embarrassed by my last visit to the Great State of Texas, where I trounced him, and is now even more embarrassed by polling at 1% in the Democrat Primary, should respect the victims & law enforcement — & be quiet!" Trump tweeted.