US Politics

After shooting, Democrat Beto O'Rourke accuses Trump of 'stoking racism'

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A 2020 presidential candidate has slammed Donald Trump after a shooting in Texas.

Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke accused President Donald Trump Saturday of inciting hatred after a mass shooting in his Texas hometown that police are investigating as a possible hate crime.

Speaking to reporters outside a hospital in El Paso where he was visiting victims of the shooting, Mr O'Rourke said Mr Trump had proven himself a racist with his recent attacks on four ethnic minority congresswomen and his past branding of Mexicans as rapists.

"He is a racist and he stokes racism in this country," said Mr O'Rourke, who represented El Paso in the US Congress until recently. 

"And it does not just offend our sensibilities, it fundamentally changes the character of this country and it leads to violence.

"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."

Kendall Long (L) comforts Kianna Long (R) who was in the freezer section of a Walmart during a shooting incident, in El Paso, Texas, USA, 03 August 2019.
Kendall Long (L) comforts Kianna Long (R) who was in the freezer section of a Walmart during a shooting incident, in El Paso, Texas, USA, 03 August 2019.
AAP

More than 80 per cent of El Paso's population is Hispanic, according to US census figures.

A suspect being questioned by police over the shooting has not been named by the authorities, although US media have identified him as Patrick Crusius, a 21-year-old who lives on the outskirts of Dallas, Texas.

After nearly ousting the incumbent Texas Senator Ted Cruz in last year's mid-term elections, Mr O'Rourke had been one of the favourites to challenge Mr Trump for the presidency when he announced his candidancy in March.

His campaign, however, has faltered since then.

Mr Trump has faced growing accusations of racism since he attacked the four left-leaning lawmakers last month in a series of tweets, saying they should "go back" to their countries of origin.

The president insists he hasn't "a racist bone" in his body.

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