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 TrumpFacebook releases audit on conservative bias claims Harry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' Recessions happen when presidents overlook key problems 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 CornynThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters Democrats keen to take on Cornyn despite formidable challenges The Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape 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 CruzGOP strategist predicts Biden will win nomination, cites fundraising strength 3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 The Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters 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."