2020 White House hopeful and former Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke on Tuesday once again blamed President Donald Trump for the weekend’s mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, and re-upped his call for the president not to visit the border city in wake of the tragedy.
“I would prefer the president not come to El Paso. This is not just my preference. I’ve been listening to people. Importantly, I’ve been listening to the victims and their families,” O’Rourke told reporters. His comments come one day after taking to social media urging President Trump to stay out of El Paso, arguing “he has no place here.”
On Saturday, accused gunman Patrick Crusius, 21, shot dead 20 people and injured 26 at an El Paso Walmart. The death toll has since risen to 22. Texas prosecutors charged Crusius with capital murder. He is believed to have posted a manifesto online railing against Hispanic immigrants.
O’Rourke also repeated his claim that President Trump shares responsibility for Crusius’ actions.
“We know now that he is coming,” O’Rourke said of the president. “And I expect El Paso do nothing short of ensuring that his visit is a safe one, that we’re respectful towards him, but that we never forget his role in what happened on Saturday and holding him accountable and those who have allowed him to do this and are complicit still today in their silence by not calling him out.”
O’Rourke on Saturday left to the campaign trail to be in El Paso following the shooting, where he attempted to tie President Trump to the massacre.
“He is a racist, and he stokes racism in this country. And it does not just offend our sensibilities; it fundamentally changes the character of this country, and it leads to violence,” he told reporters. “And again, there are still details that we are waiting on, but I’m just following the lead that I’ve heard from the El Paso Police Department where they say there are strong indications that this shooter wrote that manifesto and this was inspired by his hatred of people here in this community.”
He is not the only El Paso Democrat attempting to blame the president in the wake of the tragedy.
On Monday, Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX) said the president is not “welcome” to in the city and should “accept responsibility” that his rhetoric was a contributing factor to the massacre. “I would encourage the president’s staff members to have him do a little self-reflection. I would encourage them to show him his own words and his actions at the rallies because we’re not going to get past this until there’s acknowledgment from the very top that we need to heal, that this whole country is hurting, that there has been bigotry and racism and hatred that has been stoked at all levels,” Escobar told MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
Nonetheless, President Trump is expected to visit El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, where 9 people were shot dead early Sunday morning, to pay his respects to the victims.