DES MOINES, IA —In a Tuesday night speech at Grand View University in Des Moines, Beto O’Rourke’s return to the Iowa campaign trail saw a new twist: dedicating a larger portion of his stump speech to the epidemic of gun violence.
In his speech, O’Rourke condemned Trump’s rhetoric on both guns and immigration.
“[The shooter in El Paso] brought that hatred, he brought that racism, and he brought that message that Donald Trump has been delivering the last three years,” O’Rourke said.
The candidate also chided Iowa Republicans for not acting enough on guns, including Senator Joni Ernst, criticizing her for dismissing the gun part of the gun violence debate.
“I’ve heard people, including your junior senator, talk about gun violence as a mental health issue in this country,” O’Rourke said. “This is the logic: ‘Crazy people just do this stuff, so that’s just crazy, and you just got to accept it, how do you stop crazy in this country?’ Which is demeaning to those who have mental health challenges and need help right now…and it’s turning a blind eye that we sell these weapons of war.”
O’Rourke shared the statistic that there are more guns on the streets than there are American citizens.
The candidate’s return to Iowa follows his visit to Mississippi — where ICE enforcement raids at a processing plant took place, with hundreds remaining in detention. He also stopped by a gun show in Arkansas.
These aren’t conventional, run-of-the-mill campaign stops, indicating what his campaign said he would do: go everywhere, not just to the conventional early primary states.
O’Rourke remains in low single digits in the latest round of national polls. But at least one voter imagines the possibility of a Trump v. O’Rourke matchup on the debate stage.
During a Q&A session Tuesday, a voter asked O’Rourke how he would handle facing off against Trump after the president infamously walked behind then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as she answered a question.
O’Rourke responded by promising he’d “stand tall” against the President and by the policies he, O’Rourke, represents.
Photo: Jake Bullington/The Texas Signal