O'Rourke to return to presidential campaign after El Paso shooting

O'Rourke to return to presidential campaign after El Paso shooting
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Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) will resume his presidential campaign on Thursday after a 12-day break in which he returned to his hometown of El Paso, Texas, to meet with residents after a mass shooting there left 22 people dead.

The campaign said in a statement that O’Rourke on Thursday will give a speech in El Paso outlining “the path forward for his presidential campaign and for the future of the country.” The Texas Democrat will return to the campaign trail following the speech, although it’s unclear where he intends to go first. 

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O’Rourke has been meeting with families of victims and residents in El Paso since the Aug. 3 shooting.

He has blamed President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse panel approves 0.5B defense policy bill House panel votes against curtailing Insurrection Act powers after heated debate House panel votes to constrain Afghan drawdown, ask for assessment on 'incentives' to attack US troops MORE for inspiring the massacre, saying the president’s rhetoric toward immigrants motivated the suspected killer, who allegedly posted a manifesto before the shootings that talked about a Hispanic “invasion.”

O’Rourke has called Trump a “white supremacist” and questioned whether the people who voted for him are also racist. 

His return to the campaign trail comes about a month before the next presidential debate in Houston. O’Rourke and eight other candidates have qualified for that debate, although the Texas Democrat has otherwise struggled to gain traction in the White House race.

This week, the Houston Chronicle ran an op-ed imploring the former congressman to abandon his presidential bid and instead to run for Senate against Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday New legislation required to secure US semiconductor leadership GOP skeptical of polling on Trump MORE (R-Texas), who is up for reelection.

O’Rourke electrified Texas Democrats and rose to national prominence by nearly unseating Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrump administration grants funding extension for Texas testing sites Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill banning federal government use of facial recognition tech | House lawmakers roll out legislation to establish national cyber director | Top federal IT official to step down GOP lawmakers join social media app billed as alternative to Big Tech MORE (R-Texas) in 2018, but his presidential run has so far been a disappointment.

A RealClearPolitics average of polls has O'Rourke in sixth place in the crowded field of Democratic White House hopefuls with a polling average of 2 percent.

"Drop out of the race for president and come back to Texas to run for senator," the Chronicle wrote. "The chances of winning the race you’re in now are vanishingly small. And Texas needs you." 

"Imagine the effect you could have on our state. Ideas get sharper when they’re challenged, when points of view clash. We think Texas will get smarter, and its politics more sophisticated, if campaigns here were a true test of ideas, not one-sided races set to autopilot."