The deaths of 22 people in the El Paso shooting earlier this month made clear “the real consequence and cost of Donald Trump”, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said on Sunday.
“From the outset of this campaign,” the Texan told NBC’s Meet the Press, “even before this campaign, I talked about how dangerous President Trump’s open racism is”.
But he added: “It wasn’t until someone, inspired by Donald Trump, drove more than 600 miles, to my hometown, and killed 22 people in my community with a weapon of war, an AK-47, that he had no business owning, that no American should own, unless they are on a battlefield, engaged with the enemy.
“It wasn’t until that moment that I truly understood how critical this moment is and the real consequence and cost of Donald Trump.”
The mosque in Victoria burned down on 28 January 2017, the day after Trump signed an executive order which sought to temporarily bar from the US people from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia and to suspend or limit refugee admissions.
The suspect in the shooting at an El Paso Walmart has been linked to a “manifesto” in which Trump policies were cited. He surrendered to police, who have said he has confessed to wanting to kill Mexicans.
O’Rourke is off the pace in the Democratic field, sixth in the realclearpolitics.com national polling average. But his campaigning has gained new urgency and his attacks on Trump new vigour since the shooting in the city he represented in the US House from 2013 to the start of this year.
O’Rourke told NBC he had seen danger inherent to Trump’s policies and behaviour again “yesterday, in Mississippi, in Canton, in a community where nearly 700 people working in chicken processing plants, one of the toughest jobs in America, were raided, detained, taken from their kids, humiliated, hogtied, for the crime of being in this country, doing a job that no one else will do”.
Raids on Mississippi food processing plants by US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, or Ice, caused national outcry this month. The operation against undocumented migrants was carried out just after the El Paso shooting and a controversial visit to the Texas city by Trump himself.
Setting off for that visit, Trump told reporters those criticising him in connection with shootings “are political people. They’re trying to make points. In many cases they’re running for president, and they’re very low in the polls. A couple of them in particular, very low in the polls.”
On NBC on Sunday, O’Rourke said: “There is a concerted, organised attack against immigrants, against people of colour, against those who do not look like or pray like or love like the majority in this country.
“And this moment will define us one way or another. And if we do not wake up to it, I am convinced that we’ll lose America, this country, in our sleep. And we cannot allow that to happen.”