Beto O'Rourke links 'racist' Trump to El Paso shootings

Mary Papenfuss

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke on Saturday blamed Donald Trump in part for the deadly El Paso shootings that killed 20 people because he said the president’s “racism” leads “to violence.”

O’Rourke attacked the president when he was asked by an ABC News reporter if Trump had any responsibility for the shootings.

“Yes,” O’Rourke flatly responded.

“We’ve had a rise in hate crimes every single one of the last three years, during an administration where you have a president who’s called Mexicans rapists and criminals,” said the former Texas congressman and El Paso native.

“He is a racist, and he stokes racism in this country,” O’Rourke added.” It does not just offend our sensibilities; it fundamentally changes the character of this country and it leads to violence."

There was no immediate response from the president.

RELATED: El Paso shooting leaves 20 dead

Trump, who was at his New Jersey golf course, tweeted “heartfelt thoughts and prayers” to the “great people of Texas” Saturday night several hours after the late-morning shooting.

Earlier, the president retweeted a USA Today headline noting that he “pledges full support for El Paso shooting victims.”

Twitter critics were eager to remind Trump that he has done nothing about gun control — and that his attacks on immigrants and people of color may have fueled the violence.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.