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Trump tells O'Rourke to 'be quiet' in wake of El Paso shooting

The Hill logo The Hill 8/7/2019 Brandon Conradis
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Video by MSNBC

President Trump late Tuesday night responded to criticism from former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), who has repeatedly assailed the president following a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.

"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!" Trump tweeted.

The president's remarks come shortly after O'Rourke, a 2020 presidential contender, announced he would be attending an event on Wednesday to pay tribute to the shooting victims and counter Trump's visit to the city.

"When President Trump comes to El Paso tomorrow, I will be joining our strong, beautiful, binational community at #ElPasoStrong. I hope to see you there," O'Rourke tweeted earlier Tuesday night.

In response to Trump's tweet, O'Rourke said, "22 people in my hometown are dead after an act of terror inspired by your racism. El Paso will not be quiet and neither will I."

Slideshow by photo service

The El Paso native, who had previously run a competitive race against Sen. Ted Cruz (R) in 2018, has garnered new interest in recent days after a viral moment following the mass shooting on Saturday at a Walmart. Asked by a reporter what Trump should do to prevent more mass shootings, a seemingly exasperated O'Rourke responded, "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---?"

The response was widely praised by liberals in the media, pointing to the growing frustration many on the left feel about how the press has been portraying Trump in the wake of the shooting. O'Rourke has dug in since then, comparing the Trump administration to the Third Reich.

O'Rourke is one of many prominent figures to criticize the president since the weekend, which also saw a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, on Sunday. Critics have drawn a link between Trump's rhetoric toward Latinos and the suspected El Paso gunman, who had apparently set out to kill Mexicans.

Trump condemned white nationalism and racism in an address on Monday morning, but that has done little to quell the anger. On Wednesday he visited Dayton and is headed to El Paso, where he's likely to receive a chilly, if not outright hostile, reception.

The tragic incidents have left an opening for O'Rourke to regain the spotlight. The former congressman has not gained much traction in the polls since announcing his candidacy for president earlier this year, with his debate performances doing little to improve his standing. But he has become the most prominent 2020 contender over the past week to address the shootings.

Earlier on Tuesday, O'Rourke said on CNN that the media can't let Trump get off "scot-free" for his actions.

"This is the most racist president we've had since perhaps Andrew Johnson, in another age and another century, and he is responsible for the hatred and the violence that we're seeing right now," he said on CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time."

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