Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) was among several Democratic politicians to lambaste President Donald Trump over the weekend for his “open racism” and white nationalist rhetoric in the wake of a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso on Saturday that left 21 people dead.

The 46-year-old 2020 Democratic presidential candidate — whose 16th district primarily includes the area surrounding El Paso — said in an interview on CNN’s State of the Union that Trump’s rhetoric was “encouraging” acts of violence like Saturday’s.

“We have to acknowledge the hatred, the open racism that we’re seeing,” said O’Rourke, adding that “there is an environment of it in the United States.”

According to CNN, O’Rourke was also asked by a reporter during a vigil on Sunday held for the victims of the massacre: “Is there anything in your mind that the President can do now to make this any better?”


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“What do you think? You know the s— he’s been saying. He’s been calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. I don’t know, like, members of the press, what the f—? Hold on a second. You know, I — it’s these questions that you know the answers to,” O’Rourke answered, referring to Trump.

He continued: “I mean, connect the dots about what he’s been doing in this country. He’s not tolerating racism, he’s promoting racism. He’s not tolerating violence, he’s inciting racism and violence in this country. So, you know, I just — I don’t know what kind of question that is.”

On Sunday, the Justice Department announced it was treating the El Paso shooting as an act of domestic terrorism. Many federal prosecutors have said they are considering the death penalty for the perpetrator, a 21-year-old man named Patrick Crusius. 

Other 2020 Democratic presidential contenders who blasted Trump for emboldening white supremacists and other racists included South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio).

“He is ripping at our nation,” Booker said of Trump on CNN, adding, “he must be held responsible.”

Buttigieg said the president is “condoning and encouraging white nationalism.”

Ryan was also bold in his response about Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric.

“Well, the white nationalists think he’s a white nationalist, and that’s the crux of the problem. They support him. The David Dukes of the world support him,” the Ohio Democrat said on State of the Union. “They said he’s going to implement their agenda. That’s all you need to know.”

Former Housing Secretary Julian Castrothe lone Hispanic contender in the 2020 Democratic field, also criticized Trump for his rhetoric.

“I believe that President Trump is making it worse,” said Castro of white supremacism.

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