Beto O'Rourke opens debate by slamming Trump for inspiring mass shootings


The former congressman wasted no time pinning white nationalist violence on Trump.

Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke used his opening statement at Thursday's third Democratic presidential debate to tie Trump's embrace of white nationalism to the recent rise in violence, including a mass shooting in his home town.

"On August 3 in El Paso, Texas, two things became crystal clear for me and, I think, produced a turning point for the country," he said. "The first is just how dangerous Donald Trump is, the cost and the consequence of his presidency ⁠— racism and violence that had long been a part of America ⁠— was welcomed out into the open and directed to my home town...where 22 people were killed [and] dozens more grievously issued by a man carrying a weapon he should never have been able to buy in the first place. Inspired to kill by our president."

O'Rourke was referencing a mass shooting at a Walmart store last month, carried out by a man reportedly inspired by white nationalism and anti-immigrant extremism. The shooter allegedly wrote a manifesto that echoed Trump's frequent attacks on Latinx immigrants, comparing them to an invasion.

While his alleged manifesto said his views predated Trump, the president's rhetoric has in fact lead to a significant spike in hate crimes, according to several recent studies.

Other recent white nationalist attackers have also cited Trump and his racism as their inspiration.

O'Rourke also said Thursday night that his second realization from the El Paso tragedy was "how insufficient our politics is to meet the threat that we have right now."

Congress is currently at a stalemate over the recent rise in gun violence. Despite a rash of mass shootings in recent months, Republicans in the Senate have refused to take up gun reform legislation previously passed in the House of Representatives. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for his part, has said he will not bring any legislation to the floor unless Trump has said he will sign it.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.