Beto O’Rourke called out Donald Trump at the September Democratic debate, calling the president a white supremacist who’s a danger to people of color and immigrants in the United States.
Beto O’Rourke didn’t mince words during the September 12 Democratic debate when he called President Donald Trump a white supremacist. The former Texas congressman was embroiled in an intense debate about the scourge of mass shootings over the summer, including one in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, on August 3. O’Rourke noted that the man who opened fire with an assault weapon at a Walmart, killing 22 people and injuring 24 more, possessed a manifesto that echoed many of the inflammatory remarks made by the president about minorities. Many of the victims were Latino.
“Racism in America is endemic and it is foundational,” O’Rourke said. “We can mark the creation of this country not at the 4th of July, 1776, but August 20, 1619, when the first kidnapped African was brought to this country against his will. And in bondage, as a slave, built the greatness and success and wealth that neither he, nor his descendants would ever be able to fully participate in and enjoy. We have a challenge to address this in our education system… our healthcare… or the fact that there is 10 times the wealth in white America than in Black America. But we must also call out the fact we have a white supremacist in our White House and he poses a mortal threat to people across this country.”
O’Rourke also said that he wants to give reparations to the descendants of slaves. In response to the El Paso mass shooting, as well as the one less than 24 hours later in Dayton, Ohio, O’Rourke has proposed a government buyback program for assault weapons, which has garnered backlash. But he doubled down on that in the debate, which was held in Houston, Texas, and where survivors of the shooting sat in the audience. He recounted a heartbreaking anecdote from the shooting, where a young girl bled out because there weren’t enough ambulances to carry all the victims. “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We’re not going to allow it to be used against a fellow American anymore,” he said, to applause and cheers.
His fellow candidates echoed his call for gun control and a potential assault weapon ban, as well as his assertion that Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and actions inspired the shooter in El Paso. “He didn’t pull the trigger, but he’s certainly tweeting out the ammunition,” Senator Kamala Harris said.
This isn’t the first time that O’Rourke has called Trump a white supremacist. He said it in an interview with MSNBC in El Paso, shortly before the president was scheduled to arrive after the shooting. ““He’s also made that very clear [that he is a white supremacist],” O’Rourke said when asked. “He’s dehumanized or sought to dehumanize those who do not look like or pray like the majority here in this country. He asserted that racist rhetoric inspired acts of violence against minorities across the country, like the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and condemned him for laughing at a rally when a supporter yelled “shoot them!” in reference to immigrants.
“He says, ‘That’s okay with me,’” O’Rourke said. “He’s not the source of racism in this country. This country has been racist as long as it’s been a country, but he’s certainly fanning the flames. He’s certainly making violence like this more possible and more real.”