O’Rourke made the comments Saturday evening after returning to his hometown of El Paso, where 20 people were killed and at least 26 others injured in a mass shooting at a shopping mall.
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RELATED STORY: 20 Killed In Shooting At El Paso Shopping Center
El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen told reporters the shooting had “the nexus of a hate crime.”
Police arrested a 21-year-old man from the Dallas area in connection with the carnage. The police chief said investigators had obtained a manifesto and were trying to confirm that it was “from the individual that we arrested”
The New York Times reported that the hate-filled manifesto made reference to a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
Asked by reporters if he thinks President Trump has fueled hatred, O’Rourke responded “yes.”
“We’ve had a rise in hate crimes, every single one of the last three years during an administration where you’ve had a president who’s called Mexican citizens ‘rapist and criminals,’ though Mexican immigrants commit crimes at a far lower rate those born here in the country. He has tried to make us afraid of them,” O’Rourke stated.
Asked if Trump shares any blame for the El Paso shooting Beto O'Rourke says "yes." "He is a racist and he stokes racism in this country." Full video: https://t.co/7XylxcukRl pic.twitter.com/JEdN0i8BjR
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) August 4, 2019
The former Texas Congressman then cited examples, including the president’s Muslim ban, and his comments about Democratic representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley; who Trump said should go back to their “crime infested” countries after the women criticized the administration’s immigration policies.
O’Rourke said Trump’s words and actions have consequences, and mentioned one of the president’s recent rallies as an example.
“Those chants that we heard in Greenville, North Carolina, ‘send her back,’ talking about our fellow American citizens elected to represent their constituents in the Congress, who happen to be women of color, he is a racist and he stokes racism in this country,” O’Rourke said.
Trump has defended himself against recent racism charges, saying in a recent tweet that he is the “least racist person in the world.”