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.
‘This was the smoking gun!’ MSNBC’s Morning Joe explains why Mulvaney ‘confession’ could end Trump presidency
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough said White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney had offered "smoking gun" evidence in a stunning confession to the crime at the heart of the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
The "Morning Joe" host said Mulvaney had made a stunning "confession," but he said the president had on the same day endorsed the ethnic cleansing of the Kurdish allies he had betrayed to Turkey.
"There's so much to talk about, we joke for a few minutes at the top of the show, Mika likes do that, me, I like to get straight into the news," said Scarborough, who frequently annoys his wife and co-host by bantering about sports at the start of the show. "But there's so much going on that if somebody just woke up this morning they might not think that yesterday was not one of the most significant news days in, during the Trump presidency, and I may even argue one of the most significant news days over perhaps the last decade, just in terms of volume."
Vote-splitting fears raised in final days of Canada election
In the dying days of what Justin Trudeau described as one of the "nastiest" election campaigns in Canadian history -- with plenty of mudslinging, attack ads and misinformation -- he played up fears on Thursday of vote-splitting handing victory to his rival Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives.
Policy announcements gave way to calls to vote strategically to keep Trudeau's Liberals in power and prevent a rollback of his progressive policies by the Tories.
Pollsters predict a minority government -- either Liberal or Conservative -- resulting from the October 21 ballot.
Attack ads accused Liberals of seeking to legalize hard drugs and the Tories of allowing assault rifles on Canadian streets -- claims that are flat out wrong or exaggerated, respectively.
Japan emperor to proclaim enthronement in ritual-bound ceremony
Japan's new Emperor Naruhito will formally proclaim his ascension to the throne next week in a ritual-bound ceremony, but the after-effects of deadly typhoon will cast a shadow over proceedings.
Naruhito officially assumed his duties as emperor on May 1, a day after his father became the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in 200 years.
But the transition will not be complete until his new role is officially proclaimed on Tuesday, in a series of events expected to be attended by foreign dignitaries from nearly 200 countries.
The event will come just over a week after Typhoon Hagibis slammed into Japan, killing nearly 80 people and leaving a trail of destruction.