Democratic presidential hopeful and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke has amped up his criticism of President Donald Trump, comparing a recent Trump event in North Carolina to Nazi rallies.
As his poll numbers stagnate and he struggles to build momentum, O’Rourke is resorting to rhetoric that’s outlandish even by his standards. While his comments might provide him some favorable media coverage, they won’t be enough to save his floundering campaign.
During an ABC News interview, O’Rourke called the president a “racist” and declared, “What we saw in North Carolina last week was almost an impromptu Nuremberg rally, inciting hatred, and ultimately, I think, implicit in that is violence against people based on the color of their skin, based on their religion, based on their difference from the majority of Americans.”
Speaking at New York’s Ellis Island, he said his hometown of El Paso “could be the Ellis Island of today. Perhaps millions of people who become Americans coming from Mexico and El Salvador and the Western hemisphere first set foot in the United States in my hometown.” Like many on the left, he drew no distinction between legal and illegal immigration.
O’Rourke’s comments about Trump come after the president made headlines for suggesting on Twitter that a group of progressive lawmakers led by Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” and then “come back and show us how … it is done.”
Just days after the tweets, Trump supporters at a Greenville, North Carolina, rally chanted, “Send her back,” as the president criticized Omar from the podium.
The chant provided O’Rourke with an opportunity to condemn what he claims is a pattern of racist invective from the president. He did so, however, in language that only undermined his case.
The former lawmaker listed a handful of Trump controversies, including the president’s description of Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and his statement that there were “very fine people on both sides” at the 2017 far-right Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
But O’Rourke’s remarks were more than just complaints about the president’s words; they were utter falsehoods.
O’Rourke claimed Trump “says that Klansmen are very fine people” when the president never said such a thing. In context, Trump declared in the wake of Charlottesville that “neo-Nazis and … white nationalists … should be condemned totally.”
The Democratic candidate also distorted Trump’s comments on immigrants.
O’Rourke claimed that the president “describes asylum-seekers as animals,” an outright fabrication. Trump has used that term only when describing murderous MS-13 gang members.
O’Rourke’s comparison of a Trump event to a Nazi rally is equally reprehensible.
The Documentation Center Nazi Party Rallying Grounds, a Nuremberg museum, describes the Nazi rallies as intended to “arouse popular enthusiasm for war” and serve as “celebrations of Italian fascism.”
While the chants that broke out at Trump’s rally were shameful and repugnant, the event itself warrants no comparison to Nazi propaganda rituals.
Any comparison to Adolf Hitler’s regime demands rigorous justification, and O’Rourke’s melodramatic comments fail that test.
O’Rourke, of course, was not prepared to defend his remarks. In a last-ditch attempt to increase his poll numbers ahead of the second round of Democratic primary debates, he’s looking for whatever media attention he can get.
Not even a Nuremberg name-drop can save him now.
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