Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke called President Donald Trump an outright racist Monday and compared last week's North Carolina campaign rally to a Nazi event, according to The Hill.
During the same interview, O'Rourke said his hometown of El Paso, Texas, has the potential to become the Ellis Island of today, a place where immigrants are welcomed in to the country to improve their own lives and the nation at large.
What's the news?
O'Rourke's comments came during an ABC News interview on Ellis Island in New York. He accused Trump of racism and inciting violence against minorities.
"President Trump is a racist," O'Rourke said, referencing the president's criticisms of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley. "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."
O'Rourke also compared the situation at the southern border with Ellis Island, the former immigration station where millions of immigrants entered the U.S. between 1892 and 1954.
"This is Ellis Island, but where I live in El Paso, Texas, could be the Ellis Island of today," O'Rourke said. "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. So, though we're about 2,000 miles apart, El Paso and New York, we're connected in that common story of America."
Why does it matter?
O'Rourke is doing quite poorly in the 2020 Democratic primary. He's polling at less than 3 percent, prompting an analysis from FiveThirtyEight that "Beto O'Rourke doesn't have a base," a sharp turn in the career of the man previously thought to be a future political superstar.
These comments from O'Rourke, which like most of what he says, lack substance and appeal to extremes to garner an emotional response from the listener, reflect a candidate potentially on his last legs grasping for a way to stand out in the field.
The comparison of a Trump campaign rally to a Nazi rally is not only inaccurate and inappropriate, it's lazy. Comparing things you don't like to the Nazis is a sign of an inability to articulate your complaint.
And the comparison of El Paso to Ellis Island is unfair, considering the vastly different contexts that surround 2019 El Paso and late-19th/early-20th Century New York. It's not as if there are no legal avenues for people to enter the United States at the southern border; the problem is obviously that thousands of people are attempting to circumvent the system to enter illegally.
O'Rourke knows this, and being from El Paso, he certainly should know the real risks and dangers that make allowing millions of immigrants to freely flow into the United States from Central America and Mexico an unreasonable policy. Like O'Rourke himself, his words are idealistic, passionate, but lacking in substance and practicality.