Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke canceled his campaign events in Iowa on Thursday in favor of a trip to Mexico.
O’Rourke dropped his scheduled appearances at the Iowa State fair and a handful of Iowa political events, announcing his plan to travel to Juárez, Mexico instead on Thursday.
He is scheduled to meet with Chihuahua Governor Javier Corral Jurado and Ciudad Juárez Mayor Armando Cabada to discuss the relationship between the two countries and attend a funeral of one of the Mexican shooting victims in Juárez.
O’Rourke said Wednesday he was “not even thinking about politics,” as he continued to rally his community against Donald Trump, blaming the president for inspiring a mass shooting at a War-Mart in El Paso, Texas.
“No part of me right now is thinking about politics; is thinking about any campaign or election,” he told reporters. “All of me is with and thinking about this community.”
Choking back tears, O’Rourke publicly announced Saturday he would suspend his campaign to return to El Paso.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 3, 2019
“I’m going back there right now to be with my family and to be with my hometown,” he said.
After five days off the campaign trail, O’Rourke appears to have little interest in returning to early primary states like Iowa.
Since he returned to El Paso, he has enjoyed an unusual rise in media coverage as he repeatedly blamed President Donald Trump for the shooting and described him as a white supremacist.
At a vigil for the slain victims, O’Rourke compared Trump’s rhetoric to a speech from the “Third Reich,” referring to Nazi Germany and said Trump was giving racists and white supremacists permission to act on hate.
“Jesus Christ, of course he’s racist,” O’Rourke said about Trump during one of his many television appearances from El Paso. “He’s been racist from day one … He’s trafficked in this stuff from the very beginning, and we are reaping right now what he has sown and what his supporters in Congress have sown.” O’Rourke also joined a “counter-rally” as Trump visited some of the wounded victims in El Paso and members of law enforcement.
“As bad as this may sound, could this moment be a chance for Beto to gain some momentum?” wondered MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle after one of O’Rourke’s interviews.
The 2020 candidate’s continued media spotlight earned derision from Trump who suggested he “be quiet” in respect of the shooting victims.
Beto (phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage) O’Rourke, who is embarrassed by my last visit to the Great State of Texas, where I trounced him, and is now even more embarrassed by polling at 1% in the Democrat Primary, should respect the victims & law enforcement – & be quiet!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2019