Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeSupport for governors sliding in states without vaccine mandates: survey Abbott bans vaccine mandates from any 'entity in Texas' Abbott disapproval rating up 8 points to 59 percent in San Antonio area: poll MORE, a former Texas congressman, said Sunday that President Trump's racist rhetoric is in part to blame for the mass shooting in O'Rourke's hometown of El Paso.
"Let's be very clear about what is causing this and who the president is. He is an open avowed racist and encouraging more racism in this country," O'Rourke said on CNN's "State of the Union."
Twenty people died in the mass shooting Saturday at an El Paso Walmart. The shooter is alleged to have written a manifesto ahead of the attack filled with racist and hate-filled speech.
A day later, nine people were killed in Dayton, Ohio and at least 26 others were injured in a separate mass shooting. Little information was known about the alleged shooter Sunday morning and it is unknown if there is any connection between the two attacks.
O'Rourke told CNN's Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperButtigieg says delay in climate action will cost lives amid reports of Manchin roadblock Buttigieg says supply chain troubles could last into next year Kinzinger defends not supporting voting rights act: 'Democrats have to quit playing politics' MORE on Sunday that he believes Trump is a white nationalist, citing the president's remarks on the 2016 campaign trail and in his two and a half years in office.
"This cannot be open for debate and you as well as I have a responsibility to call that out to make sure the American people know what is being done in their name," O'Rourke told Tapper.
"He doesn't even pretend to respect our differences or understand we are all created equal. He is saying some people are inherently defected."
The 2020 Democrat said likened Trump's language to that of Nazi Germanys' "Third Reich."
O'Rourke said when Trump says neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members are "very fine people," quoting the president's remarks after the Charlottesville, Va. riots, he "sends a message of what is permissible and what he encourages."
"So let's connect the dots here on what is happening and why it is happening and who is responsible for this right now," O'Rourke said.