Two leading Democratic presidential candidates – Elizabeth Warren and Beto O’Rourke – have said in separate interviews that they consider Donald Trump to be a white supremacist.
Asked whether she considered the president to be a white supremacist, Warren on Wednesday offered an unequivocal “Yes”, the New York Times reported.
“He has given aid and comfort to white supremacists,” the Massachusetts senator and 2020 runner said. “He’s done the wink and a nod. He has talked about white supremacists as fine people. He’s done everything he can to stir up racial conflict and hatred in this country.”
Earlier in the day, O’Rourke, the former congressman for the El Paso district, who has spoken out strongly about the president’s track record of using racist rhetoric, went a step further.
When he was asked directly about whether Trump was a white supremacist, in an MSNBC TV interview, he replied without hesitation: “He is.”
The comments mark a significant escalation in 2020 Democrats’ accusations against the president, and it’s unclear who if anyone from the sprawling field will join the pair in their description.
Frontrunner Joe Biden said in a speech on Wednesday that Trump had “fanned the flames of white supremacy”. That was his strongest condemnation of the president yet but stopped short of calling Trump himself a white supremacist.
Speaking in El Paso, where Trump was visiting victims of the shooting at the weekend and meeting first responders, O’Rourke launched a fierce attack and predicted that racist rhetoric will fuel more massacres.
He pointed out that perpetrators of some recent mass shootings have echoed Trump’s outspoken and repeated remarks condemning migrants arriving in the US via the border with Mexico as, variously, an infestation and an invasion.
“It will happen again because what happened in El Paso is not an isolated incident,” he told MSNBC.
“There are very real consequences to his words and his tweets and the racism that he fans. At a rally in Florida in May when he said [of migrants coming to the US], ‘How are we going to stop these people?’ someone yells ‘Shoot them’ and the crowd roars their approval and he laughs,” O’Rourke added.
He further cited the president saying he wanted more immigrants from Nordic countries, not places like the Caribbean, Central America and Africa.
“And he talked about who he wants to keep out, with walls and cages and militarization, and torture and cruelty, and we in El Paso have borne the brunt of all that – but we in El Paso are standing up to all of that right now,” he said.