Well, so much for “unity.” Just hours ahead of a planned trip to “help heal” the cities of El Paso, Texas and Toledo Dayton, Ohio (following a weekend of gun violence that left at least a combined 31 people dead), President Donald Trump is back to his usual methods. This time, former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke is in his cross-hairs.
O’Rourke, who previously served Texas’s 16th congressional district that includes El Paso and the surrounding area, has not been shy about voicing his outrage about Trump’s role in the mass shooting — as the alleged gunman has since been discovered to have been allegedly motivated by the president’s divisive rhetoric. Following a vigil for the victims on Sunday, O’Rourke did not mince words when asked by a reporter if there was anything Trump could do to fix the mess he helped cultivate.
“What do you think? You know the shit he’s been saying,” a clearly emotional O’Rouke exclaimed. “He’s been calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. I don’t know, like, members of the press, what the fuck?”
It’s unclear, if unlikely, that O’Rourke intended his diatribe to be bait, exactly, but Trump couldn’t help but take it anyway.
“Beto (phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage) O’Rourke, who is embarrassed by my last visit to the Great State of Texas, where I trounced him, and is now even more embarrassed by polling at 1% in the Democrat Primary,” Trump tweeted late Tuesday night. “Should respect the victims & law enforcement – & be quiet!”
Beto (phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage) O’Rourke, who is embarrassed by my last visit to the Great State of Texas, where I trounced him, and is now even more embarrassed by polling at 1% in the Democrat Primary, should respect the victims & law enforcement – & be quiet!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2019
Suffice to say, this attack on the lifelong El Paso resident was a far cry from the formal remarks Trump delivered on the tragedies from the White House on Monday morning, as many were quick to point out. Some took umbrage with Trump attacking O’Rourke’s nickname, among other things.
24 hours ago, in front of a teleprompter, Trump said this:
"Now is the time to set destructive partisanship aside, so destructive, and find the courage to answer hatred with unity, devotion, and love."
Tonight on Twitter, he said this: https://t.co/Lur9v90nzo
— Michael Barbaro (@mikiebarb) August 7, 2019
It’s healing words and calls for unity like these that are a big factor in why local officials in both states prefer Trump stay away tomorrow > https://t.co/kB8QSCFZx9
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) August 7, 2019
Whoa, whoa, hold up. This was NOT on the teleprompter! https://t.co/dZuiO07h1Y
— Rex Huppke (@RexHuppke) August 7, 2019
Trump is 100x easier to send into hysterics than the most sensitive college student who ever lived. a giant wet baby, constantly shrieking https://t.co/dMIMD0v4Sr
— ryan cooper (@ryanlcooper) August 7, 2019
just before midnight, on the eve of visits to victims' families, survivors, and first responders of two of the worst mass shootings in American history, a meditation from the president: https://t.co/qhz0dXA4VH
— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) August 7, 2019
For what it’s worth: I interviewed a bunch of people at the growing memorial at the Walmart in El Paso today, including a couple Trump supporters, for a story.
No one criticized O’Rourke. Nearly all of them brought up Trump’s history of racist comments, mostly without me asking. https://t.co/vnTknIxacY
— Eric Bradner (@ericbradner) August 7, 2019
FACT: O’Rourke has never claimed to be of Hispanic/Latino descent.
His use of the nickname “Beto” dates back to his childhood and originated with his parents, not him. https://t.co/5u6udNsB4R
— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) August 7, 2019
this parenthesis is quite something https://t.co/jDI9C59Stg
— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) August 7, 2019
And this, folks, is the president's mindset just hours before he visits the families and first responders in Dayton and El Paso. https://t.co/JSKIqgGqW1
— Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) August 7, 2019
Others pointed to the much-maligned New York Times headline from Tuesday’s paper:
"Trump Urges Unity vs. Racism" https://t.co/9mJ418r0py
— Molly Knight (@molly_knight) August 7, 2019
Racist gramps promoting unity again. https://t.co/GUyP9z6Sym
— Charles Johnson (@Green_Footballs) August 7, 2019
Unity Against Racism Tour ‘19 Hits Another Snag https://t.co/n2mRc74CfZ
— Charles P. Pierce (@CharlesPPierce) August 7, 2019
It didn’t take long for Beto himself to likewise respond to Trump’s attack, tweeting: “22 people in my hometown are dead after an act of terror inspired by your racism. El Paso will not be quiet and neither will I.”