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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 TrumpObama slams Trump in Miami: 'Florida Man wouldn't even do this stuff' Trump makes his case in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin Pence's chief of staff tests positive for COVID-19 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 CornynBiden's oil stance jars Democrats in tough races The Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 spending wars | Biden looks to clean up oil comments | Debate ratings are in The Hill's Campaign Report: Obama to hit the campaign trail l Biden's eye-popping cash advantage l New battleground polls favor Biden 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 CruzSenate GOP to drop documentary series days before election hitting China, Democrats over coronavirus Democrats play defense, GOP goes on attack after Biden oil comments Quinnipiac poll finds Biden, Trump tied in Texas 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."