WASHINGTON – Before a Wednesday trip to El Paso, Texas, to meet with survivors of a deadly mass shooting, President Donald Trump picked another fight with former Texas congressman and Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke.
While O’Rourke has said Trump should stay away from El Paso because of his past comments about migrants, Trump said in a tweet near midnight that his Democratic foe “should respect the victims & law enforcement – & be quiet!”
O’Rourke quickly responded with a tweet saying that Trump’s rhetoric disqualifies him from talking about a shooting by a man who said his motive was a Hispanic “invasion” of the United States.
“22 people in my hometown are dead after an act of terror inspired by your racism,” said O’Rourke, who represented the city in Congress. “El Paso will not be quiet and neither will I.”
Trump will travel to El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, on Wednesday to meet with the victims of back-to-back shootings that have reopened a pointed debate over whether his own campaign trail rhetoric has contributed to the violence. The weekend shootings killed at least 31 people.
In his salvo, Trump also mocked O’Rourke’s first name – “phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage” – as well as his standing in Democratic presidential polls. Trump also took credit for O’Rourke’s loss in a 2018 Texas Senate race to incumbent Ted Cruz.
“I trounced him,” said Trump, who made a campaign trip to Texas on Cruz’s behalf.
In another pre-trip tweet, Trump again complained about news coverage surrounding the mass shootings, in this case a flap over how The New York Times changed a headline related to his Monday speech about the attacks.
Trump also called on the news media to play up reports that the shooter in Dayton had expressed support for Democrats like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.