Beto O'Rourke says El Paso visit shows Trump is 'sick' and 'unfit' for presidency

The 2020 Democratic candidate and former Texas congressman and the president have been trading barbs in the wake of last weekend's mass shooting.
Image: Beto O'Rourke hugs a woman at a memorial honoring the victims of a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 7, 2019.
Beto O'Rourke hugs a woman at a memorial honoring the victims of a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 7, 2019.Mario Tama / Getty Images

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By Lauren Egan

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke on Sunday lambasted President Donald Trump's visit to El Paso, Texas after last weekend's mass shooting, calling the president "sick" and "unfit for this office."

“The people of El Paso told me that they didn't want to see the president and they didn't want him to come here,” O’Rourke, who is an El Paso native and formerly represented the area in Congress, said in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union."

“Not a single patient at University Medical Center or Del Sol Hospital, the two hospitals caring for survivors of that attack, wanted to see the president. That says it all, if you ask me,” O’Rourke continued.

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Trump traveled to El Paso on Wednesday after 22 people were shot dead a Walmart in the border city. The suspected gunman admitted to specifically targeting Mexicans in the shooting and referred to them as part of an “invasion.” O'Rourke and other Democrats drew similarities between the suspect's language and the president's rhetoric on immigration.

O’Rourke also criticized Trump for bringing up the size of his political rallies while meeting with shooting victims.

“For him then to focus on comparing political rallies or on himself, on how much people love him, just shows you how sick this guy is and how unfit for this office,” O’Rourke said. “He should be consoling people, bringing people together, focusing on their pain and improving their lives. And, instead, he's focused on himself.”

In a video from Trump’s visit to an El Paso hospital, the president can be heard bragging about the size of the crowd that attended a campaign rally he hosted nearby earlier this year. O’Rourke held an event down the street that same night to challenge the president's views on immigration and his proposal to build a border wall.

“We had twice the number outside,” Trump says in the video from the hospital. “And then you had this crazy Beto. Beto had, like, 400 people in a parking lot. They said, ‘His crowd was wonderful.’”

O'Rourke's comments on Sunday were the latest in a back-and-forth that began last weekend when the Texas Democrat said Trump held some blame for the shooting on the majority-Latino area.

“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,” he told reporters. "He is a racist, and he stokes racism in this country."

Other top Democrats quickly followed suit in connecting the shooting to Trump's history of vilifying immigrants, with several openly calling Trump a white supremacist or a white nationalist. Trump, ahead of his visit, tweeted that O'Rourke should "be quiet." O'Rourke shot back that, "El Paso will not be quiet and neither will I."