Land Commissioner George P. Bush linked the shooting with “white terrorism,” while U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz called it a “heinous act of terrorism and white supremacy.”
Some of Texas’ Republican leaders are saying in explicit terms that the tragic massacre in El Paso was racially motivated — and in one instance, characterizing it as part of a rise in “white terrorism.”
Authorities are investigating a hate-filled manifesto that appeared online shortly before a gunman opened fire Saturday at a crowded Walmart in El Paso, killing 20 people and injuring at least two dozen more. The document warned of a “Hispanic invasion of Texas” amid other racist and xenophobic rhetoric.
Land Commissioner George P. Bush, whose mother is a Mexican immigrant, was the first statewide official to speak plainly about the apparent link. In a statement Saturday night, Bush said the country’s counterterrorism efforts “should include standing firm against white terrorism here in the US.”
“There now have been multiple attacks from self-declared white terrorists here in the US in the last several months,” Bush said. “This is a real and present threat that we must all denounce and defeat.”
On Sunday afternoon, another statewide official of Hispanic descent, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, issued a statement that also dealt unambiguously with the gunman’s apparently racial motive.
“As the son of a Cuban immigrant, I am deeply horrified by the hateful anti-Hispanic bigotry expressed in the shooter’s so-called ‘manifesto,'” Cruz said, labeling the shooting a “heinous act of terrorism and white supremacy.”
By bluntly acknowledging race’s apparent role in the shooting, the statements by Cruz and Bush were different from initial comments by other statewide elected officials including the state’s senior U.S. senator, John Cornyn, as well as Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Abbott emphasized mental health in the immediate aftermath of the shooting Saturday evening, while Patrick decried cultural factors — such as violent video games — in a Fox News interview Sunday morning. He did say the shooting was “obviously a hate crime, I think, in my view, against immigrants.”
The Cruz and Bush statements were notable from a party that has struggled to gain the support of minority groups in Texas, particularly the ascendant Latino community. Both Bush and Cruz have previously advocated for a Texas GOP that works harder to attract those voters, though they have also embraced a president, Donald Trump, whose actions and language have deeply alienated them.
Neither Bush nor Cruz mentioned the president in their statements. Texas Democrats were far more unflinching in drawing the connection following the shooting, with Beto O’Rourke, the presidential candidate and former El Paso congressman, saying Trump “had a lot to do with what happened in El Paso.”
On Sunday afternoon, the Texas Democratic Party issued a statement pressing state Republicans to do more to fight hate in their own ranks.
“The Texas Democratic Party calls on the Republican Party of Texas, its leadership, and its elected officials to eradicate white supremacist language from their discourse,” the party’s statement said. “We call on the Republican establishment to work with Texas Democrats and pass real solutions to end gun violence and defeat systemic racism in our society.”
U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican who represents parts of El Paso County and has previously criticized Trump’s rhetoric, addressed the question of Trump’s role in the El Paso shooting during an interview Sunday morning on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
“I think divisive rhetoric is not the way to go,” Hurd said, noting the president had condemned the El Paso attack. “He has an opportunity to be the uniter-in-chief and I hope that’s the way to go.”
As for Bush’s use of the term “white terrorism,” Hurd said the FBI is still probing the manifesto, but if it indeed belonged to the gunman, “this is white nationalism terrorism and this is something that we’re seeing.”
Disclosure: Walmart has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
Lindsey Graham drives bus over Trump kids to get to Biden: ‘You can’t investigate one family and not the other’
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) suggested on Sunday that the children of both President Donald Trump and Joe Biden should be investigated.
While speaking to Fox News host Maria Bartiromo, Graham was asked if he is calling for an investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son over dealings in the Ukraine. President Donald Trump allegedly also asked Ukraine's president for help with the Bidens.
"Yeah, I want the Department of Justice to appoint somebody to look at the role the Ukraine played if any in the 2016 elections," Graham told Bartiromo. "There are a lot of allegations out there how Ukraine fed information maybe to the Democrats."
Entire CNN panel beats down Santorum for Ukraine misinformation: ‘You don’t get to decide what the facts are’
Conservative CNN contributor Rick Santorum was called out on Sunday after he seemed to be uneducated about President Donald Trump's attempt to have Ukraine investigate Joe Biden and his son.
During a panel discussion on CNN, Republican contributor Mia Love said that Trump's communication with Ukraine was not "appropriate" if he was looking for campaign help.
"There is no equivalence between Joe Biden and Hunter Biden and what this president has allegedly done," Democratic consultant Karen Finney noted. "The things that were investigated against the Bidens [were] shelved, totally debunked."
Tapper smacks Mnuchin with Trump kids’ international business deals after attack on Biden son
In a fairly contentious interview with Steve Mnuchin, CNN host Jake Tapper pointed out how Donald Trump's children -- Don Jr., Ivanka and Eric -- have been using their father's name to swing international deals after the Treasury secretary accused former Vice President Joe Biden's son of doing the same.
Mnuchin first dismissed reporting by the Washington Post and the conservative Wall Street Journal that Donald Trump was withholding Ukraine funding in an effort to get dirt on Biden and his son -- saying neither newspaper could be trusted -- he then complained to the CNN host about having to spend seven and a half minutes talking about Trump's Ukraine scandal.