Asked by news reporters whether the president was at all responsible for the shooting, O’Rourke, who formerly served as the city’s mayor, responded firmly.
“Yes. 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,” O’Rourke said Saturday evening.
“He is a racist, and he stokes racism in this country,” the former congressman and current 2020 candidate for president continued. “It does not just offend our sensibilities; it fundamentally changes the character of this country, and it leads to violence.”
O’Rourke’s statement came after politicians from both parties, including Trump, expressed their condolences following the shooting Saturday that injured as many as 20 people and killed at least 18, according to media reports.
Texas officials confirmed that the suspect, identified as a 21-year-old male from the Dallas area, was the author of a racist and anti-immigrant screed that appeared on the website 8chan before the attack.
Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), denounced the shooting as an act of “white terrorism” in a statement Saturday shortly before O’Rourke’s remarks.