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STATE OF THE UNION
Two Mass Shootings Rock Nation; Interview With Presidential Candidate Julian Castro; Interview With Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg; Interview With Presidential Candidate Beto O'Rourke; Interview With Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ); Interview With Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH); 13 Hours Of Bloodshed, 29 Dead In Two Mass Shooting; At Least Nine Dead, 27 Injured In Dayton Mass Shooting; Interview with Mayor Dee Margo on El Paso Mass Shooting. Aired 9-11a ET
Aired August 4, 2019 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is a combination of horrified and enraged, enraged by the lack of effort by our leaders to do anything about that which continues to horrify us, which today is the latest awful news, two mass shootings in this country about 13 hours apart.
First on Saturday, a massacre in El Paso, Texas. A 21-year-old gunman, terrorist, opened fire at a Walmart, killing at least 20 people and injuring at least 26. That suspect is in custody. And the FBI has opened a domestic terrorism investigation, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
Authorities are investigating a document posted online and believed to have been written by the suspected terrorist. The document is filled with white nationalist language and racist hatred towards immigrants and specifically toward Latinos.
And then, as if that weren't horrifying enough, shortly after 1:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, a gunman opened fire outdoors in a Dayton, Ohio, business and entertainment district, killing at least nine innocent people and injuring 26.
That gunman wore body armor and fired what is called a long gun and was killed by police less than a minute after the shooting started, authorities say.
Moments ago, President Trump tweeted out prayers for people of El Paso and the people of Dayton. Yesterday, he called the El Paso shooting -- quote -- "an act of cowardice."
This morning, lawmakers and presidential candidates already are beginning to call for change.
We're going to talk with at least four presidential candidates today about what they would do to stop this epidemic of mass shootings and shootings. We should note that we invited the Republican governor, lieutenant
governor, and both Republican U.S. senators representing Texas to join us this morning. They all declined. The Republican governor of Ohio also declined.
We also asked the White House to provide someone to discuss these shootings. That request, too, was declined.
Joining me now, former Congressman from El Paso and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke.
Congressman O'Rourke, thank you for joining us on this horrible day for your community. Our -- thoughts and prayers are such a cliche at this point, but we're all feeling the pain of what is going on in El Paso and in Dayton.
Have you learned anything new about what happened since you got back to El Paso yesterday?
BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Jake.
We're grieving right now for our fellow El Pasoans. And this community is also thinking about Dayton and the people there who have suffered such extraordinary loss.
Came back yesterday and got to spend some time with some of the victims and their families. I'm seeing extraordinary people who have suffered the most grievous wounds and who have also learned that it wasn't just one family member, it was two or three or more who were shot, and in some cases who were killed.
This community is coming together unlike any other time that I can remember, donations of blood, donations of food, just the love and the encouragement and the strength and the support in the face of a horrific mass killing.
El Paso will see on average 18 murders a year. That is the average over the last 10 years. We lost at least 20 people yesterday. And it took someone coming from outside of this community of immigrants to come and bring their hatred and their death to El Paso.
And in the face of that, this community has shown just incredible strength and love and is more than a match for this. We will overcome this. But something has to change.
And one of the wives of one of the victims -- he had been selling things to raise money for the soccer team he coaches, shot in the chest. His wife asked me: "Why is this happening in our country right now? Why will this continue to happen? How do you change this?"
And -- and, Jake, I have got to tell you, in addition to universal background checks, in addition to ending the sales of weapons of war into our communities, in addition to red flag laws, we have got to acknowledge the hatred, the open racism that we're seeing.
There is an environment of it in the United States. We see it on FOX News. We see it on the Internet. And we also see it from our commander in chief. And he is encouraging this. He doesn't just tolerate it. He encourages it, calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, warning of an invasion at our border, seeking to ban all people of one religion.
Folks are responding to this. It doesn't just offend us. It encourages the kind of violence that we're seeing, including in my hometown of El Paso yesterday.
TAPPER: So, I want to talk about that in a second.
But I do want to share this picture of you visiting with a victim named Rosemary, who you said was shot in the chest, but she is doing well after surgery. Obviously, we want to bring as many attention to the victims of this as much as possible.
So, I do want to talk about how we can stop it in one second, but if you could tell me about that moment meeting Rosemary.
O'ROURKE: You know, I had met her son on the flight back from Las Vegas. He approached me on the airplane, told me that he had just learned that his mother had been shot in the chest, his grandmother had been shot in the stomach, his great aunt had also been shot.
And he was flying back to El Paso. And he asked if I would join him going to University Medical Center, where I met Rosemary, both of her lungs punctured, her lungs being drained as I was talking to her, a big smile on her face, just extraordinary courage.
Not only was she shot, but her mom, her aunt was also shot. Her family around her, these extraordinary caregivers at University Medical Center, nurses who had been working 12, 14 hours already, doctors who had been seeing multiple patients with multiple gunshot wounds just really moved me and makes me so incredibly proud of Rosemary, her family, families all across El Paso right now, who should never have to demonstrate this kind of courage, and yet nonetheless are doing so.
Met families who have not heard from a family member and fear the worst, have called Del Sol Medical Center, called UMC, don't know where their mom or dad are, fear that they are one of the -- at least 20 who are dead already.
And our resolve to ensure that this changes -- and I heard that from so many people yesterday. They want this to change. This cannot be the normal for the United States of America. And I know this community is going to do everything within our power to make sure that it is not.
TAPPER: So, Congressman, you wrote on Twitter and said publicly in El Paso: "President Trump's racism does not just offend our sensibilities. It fundamentally changes the character of this country and it leads to violence." Now, the document that this terrorist in El Paso that law enforcement is investigating whether or not he actually posted this document, which refers to Latinos coming to the country as an invasion, which, as you noted, is language that we have heard from the president of the United States.
It also says -- and I know it is hard to make sense of any of this tough -- but it also said that he had this ideology before President Trump. He kind of anticipated it. Assuming this document is real, the alleged terrorist anticipated that people would blame President Trump for it, and said: I felt this way before President Trump.
O'ROURKE: I don't know the point that you're trying to make here, Jake.
But it is pretty obvious to me and anyone who has listened to the president and will look at the facts that his anti-immigrant rhetoric, not just the things that I cited, but calling asylum-seekers animals or an infestation -- now, you might describe a cockroach or termites as an infestation, something less than human.
You might hear someone in the Third Reich describe a given people based on their characteristic as an infestation or subhuman. But that is what the president of the United States is doing right now. And it is not just with Mexican immigrants, conflating Congresswoman Ilhan Omar with the terrorists from 9/11, encouraging that chanting in North Carolina of "Send her back."
Let's not mince words right now. This president is encouraging greater racism, and not just the racist rhetoric, but the violence that so often follows.
This shooter in the manifesto cites in part for his inspiration the shooter in Christchurch, New Zealand, who cites Donald Trump as his inspiration.
This anti-immigrant rhetoric -- and, again, it is not just President Trump, but he's certainly, as the person in the position of greatest public trust in power most responsible for it -- this is FOX News. This is what we're seeing on the Internet. This is the toleration of intolerance and hatred and racism in this country.
This is what is causing what we're seeing here today. And it will continue to happen unless we call it out and unless we change it.
TAPPER: The FBI director, Christopher Wray, has warned Congress about the increasing threat of white supremacy in the past.
I want you to take a listen to something that FBI Director Wray said in April of this year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: We have seen an increase in the reporting of hate crimes, and the FBI's own number of hate crime cases have increased. [09:10:04]
The danger, I think, of white supremacist, violent extremism or any other kind of violent extremism is, of course, significant. We assess that it's a persistent, pervasive threat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: If the kinds of shootings we have seen in El Paso or in California, in which the individual there was suspected to have white supremacist ideology, and other white supremacists murders, the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and on and on, if those were Muslim men committing those crimes, how do you think Congress would be reacting, as opposed to the fact that it is white supremacists committing these crimes?
O'ROURKE: They weren't Muslim men committing those crimes.
I don't know how Congress...
TAPPER: I know. I know. That's -- but my point is, is there not a double standard here?
O'ROURKE: So let's focus on what the problem is.
TAPPER: That's what I'm saying. That's what I'm saying, yes.
O'ROURKE: Well, yes.
Well, so -- but let's focus on the problem that the FBI director has called out to members of Congress and to this country. We have a problem with white nationalist terrorism in the United States of America today.
So I don't want to confuse people about what is going on or use a hypothetical about what if this was somebody else from a different background or profile.
These are white men motivated by the kind of fear that this president traffics in. The mosque in Victoria, Texas, was burned to the ground on the same day that President Trump signed his order attempting to ban Muslim travel to the United States of America.
When he says after Charlottesville that Klansmen and white supremacists and neo-Nazis are very fine people, the commander in chief is sending a very public signal to the rest of this country about what is permissible and, in fact, even when he encourages to happen.
So let's connect the dots here on what is happening and why it is happening and who is responsible for this right now, and the fact that it is going to take all of us, Republicans, Democrats, independents alike, rising up, standing up to be counted against what this president is doing, against this white nationalist racism, against this violence and getting this country back.
They are saying that our differences are, in fact, dangerous; if you're a Muslim, you're inherently dangerous; if you are a immigrant, you are inherently dangerous; if you are an asylum-seeker, you are invading this country, you are an infestation.
Those words have very real consequences. You don't get mass shootings like these, you don't torch mosques, you don't put kids in cages until you have a president who has given people permission to do that. And that is exactly what is happening in the United States of America today.
TAPPER: Just to be clear, I'm not trying to confuse anybody.
I -- I was trying to point out that there seems a glaring double standard in how law enforcement and Congress talks about the incidents. These are white supremacist terrorist acts over and over and over in which people are being murdered.
And I was trying to offer a hypothetical, if it were a different group, I feel like it would be a red alarm fire, a four-alarm fire.
But -- but let me move on, because during one of the debates, your 2020 opponent Governor Jay Inslee of Washington said that President Trump is a -- quote -- "white nationalist."
That was a fairly stark accusation.
Do you agree with that? Do you think President Trump is a white nationalist?
O'ROURKE: Yes, I do.
And, again, from some of the record that I just recited to you, the things that he has said, both as a candidate and then as the president of the United States, this cannot be open for debate.
And you, as well as I, have a responsibility to call that out, to make sure that the American people understand what is being done in their name by the person who holds the highest position of public trust in this land.
He does not even pretend to respect our differences or to understand that we are all created equal. He is saying that some people are inherently defective or dangerous, reminiscent of something that you might hear in the Third Reich, not something that you expect in the United States of America, based on their religion, based on their sexual orientation, based on their immigration status, based on the countries that they come from, calling those in Africa shithole nations, and saying that he'd like to have more immigration from Nordic countries, the whitest place on planet Earth today.
So, again, let's be very clear about what is causing this and who the president is. He is an open, avowed racist and is encouraging more racism in this country. And this is incredibly dangerous for the United States of America right now.
All of us have a responsibility to stand up and be counted on this issue.
TAPPER: You went home to El Paso yesterday after the shooting to spend some time with your wife and your children.
There are a lot of parents across the country right now trying to talk to their kids about this or even debating whether or not they should tell their kids about it.
What did you tell your kids about what happened in El Paso?
O'ROURKE: I was laying down with my youngest, Henry, who is 8 years old.
And he was asking me question after question after question about why this is happening.
For him and really, frankly, for me, it is so hard to believe that this happened in El Paso. It is one of the safest places in America, and safe in large part because of our differences.
A quarter of those with whom we live were born somewhere else, chose this country, made us better by their presence. Why is this happening here?
Why would somebody come to our community? I don't know how he got here, but it is a 10-, 11-, 12-hour drive to come here in order to do this.
Some of this, I have explained to you in terms of what our president has done, in terms of this environment of racism in this country. Really hard, though, for a child to understand why anyone would do this to anyone else.
But my responsibility, your responsibility is to make this better for Henry and for the generations that follow ours. They need to know that we knew exactly what was happening, and, in the face of that, we stood up and did the right thing.
And I'm 100 percent focused on doing that right now.
TAPPER: All right, former Congressman Beto O'Rourke from his home city of El Paso, a city that is grieving today, good luck to you and your fellow citizens.
It is a horrible day, and we're all thinking about you. Thank you so much for joining us.
O'ROURKE: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER; We're learning more about the deadly shooting in Dayton, Ohio, as well. That shooter targeted people outdoors in a downtown entertainment
district. Dayton's mayor said that the shooter killed nine people and injured 26 in less than a minute using an AR-15-style rifle with a high-capacity magazine.
Joining us now is Ohio's Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown.
Senator Brown, thank you so much for joining us on this horrible day.
Obviously, all of us watching are offering our deepest condolences to everyone in Dayton and in the state of Ohio.
The shooting happened just 13 hours after the horrific massacre, the terrorist attack really, in El Paso.
What was your reaction when you heard the news of what was going on in your home state?
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): Well, of course, sadness, and -- but also anger, because -- actually, I spoke to the mayor earlier this morning, Mayor Whaley, who is mayor of that great Ohio city.
And she said she has gotten literally dozens and dozens of texts and e-mails from mayors around the country offering condolences, but advice, because they have seen this in their cities, city after city after city.
And the response I had, in addition to sadness, is anger that Congress still doesn't do its job. The House of Representatives has passed background check legislation. The Senate could meet tomorrow. I hope that Senator McConnell would bring the Senate back tomorrow and pass the background check bill and send it to the president.
And the president must sign it, period.
TAPPER: The mayor of Dayton had an emotional reaction at a press conference earlier this morning describing how she felt having her city join that long list of places in America to experience a mass shooting just this year.
Having it so close to home must make it even worse. I know you have been trying to stop mass shootings. But tell us about what it is like for people you know to be involved.
BROWN: It is -- it's -- I mean, I know Dayton very well. I have been in the Oregon District 40 or 50 times probably during -- in my life.
And it is just -- it is just hard to understand why this happens and how this happens. And it is particularly hard to understand why our government continues to let it happen.
I was part of the bill many years ago to ban assault weapons in this country. It passed. It passed with a good vote. It was the law for a number of years. President Bush, the second, supported it.
Because of the NRA, Congress did not renew the assault weapon ban. And it worked. The assault weapon ban was working. The fact that this many people were killed and injured -- and you reported in less than a minute -- the mayor told me it was less than 30 seconds from the first shot until the police arrived and killed the shooter.
And she said to me, hundreds could have died if the police response hadn't been that quick. That is the only good news in this, how great the police response was.
But the fact that he had a weapon that could have -- an assault weapon that could have shot, that could have killed so many people, with enough bullets, enough magazines to mow down virtually anybody along that street and in those clubs and in those buildings, just tells me that Congress has just got to act and say no to the gun lobby for the first time in Mitch McConnell's life as the leader of the Senate.
TAPPER: We have some indication as to what motivated the alleged terrorist shooter in El Paso.
Do you have any information you can share with us about the identity or the motive of the Dayton shooter?
BROWN: Only that the mayor said it was a white -- young white male.
I believe she may have said his age, I believe early 20s, but I don't know for sure. He came not from the city of Dayton. He came from a town in Montgomery County nearby. That is the county Dayton is in. And that is all that I know.
I assume the police already know a good bit more than that. I'm -- Connie and I are on our way to Dayton as soon as -- soon after this interview is completed. We have left our home in Cleveland early this morning. We're heading south and going to Dayton, and we will be there sometime this afternoon.
TAPPER: Is there any reason to believe that there is any connection whatsoever between what happened in El Paso and what happened in Dayton, either a copycat or a similar white supremacist ideology?
Is there any indication as of now?
BROWN: I have no way of knowing that. I just would ask -- I would just hope the president would begin to try to -- would stop the divisive, racist rhetoric that he has employed increasingly.
He did it in the campaign in '16. Many thought that would be enough to keep him from winning. But, more importantly, he does it even more now.
And I just remember what Barack Obama did after Sandy Hook and what Barack Obama did after Charleston. He went there. His job was to heal the country and to comfort -- to comfort people, the victims and families, and comfort the whole country and to heal the country.
And I go back to President Bush, the second President Bush, after 9/11. He went to a mosque and he said, Muslims didn't attack our country; terrorists did.
And I wish the president of the United States would show the leadership of either of his predecessors and stop the racist, divisive talk and start the healing process.
TAPPER: Some of the Democrats running for president not only are faulting the president for his rhetoric, but they're saying that that rhetoric, in their view -- you heard Congressman Beto O'Rourke maybe -- leads to this, causes violence.
Do you agree, or does that go too far?
BROWN: I don't know. I can't prove anything.
But I do know that we have had two presidents -- the two preceding presidents who have dealt with terrible terrorism and mass shootings tried to heal, and this president doesn't.
I don't -- I mean, I know that white supremacists feel empowered with this president. I know that. It is clear they feel empowered when he attacks people. And I saw the chants coming out of the crowd in, I think, North Carolina to send them back.
And I just -- it breaks my heart, because I -- we have never had -- our country is better than this. Our country is just better than this kind of divisive, racist talk by a president of the United States.
And I'm just always praying and hoping for something better. I guess the thoughts and prayers that my colleagues that always stand with the NRA, I guess I hope their thoughts and prayers will go for the president to begin to heal and stop the racist, divisive talk.
And I would hope some of my colleagues would, one, stand up to the gun lobby, and, second, would actually talk to the president about doing better about all of this.
TAPPER: You noted that the U.S. Senate, which time and again, from Sandy Hook to Parkland, has failed to take any action to try to make sure that guns do not get into the hands of people who would use them against innocent people.
Right now, there is a bipartisan background check bill that the House passed in February. As you noted, it is waiting to be taken up by your chamber.
Do you have any confidence that Majority Leader McConnell will even allow a vote on it?
BROWN: I know the power of the NRA. I have had a lifetime F from the NRA.
In my political career, I know that they have spent a lot of money against me. I know they attack politicians like me. And I know that my Republican colleagues that are supported by the NRA know that. And I don't know that they lack courage, but they certainly have shown no sign of standing up to the gun lobby. And I don't know what to say to that question about what the chances
are. I just hope that public officials will do their job. And their job is to stand with the American people and stand up for public health and public safety and a better society.
And, as I said -- I will say again how important it is that Mitch McConnell call the Senate back on Monday. We could pass the background check bill in an afternoon, and people can get back on a plane and go back to their homes and their children and grandchildren and whatever else they're doing in August in the evening.
We could do it that fast. And we would all then -- we would do a resounding vote, and the president of the United States perhaps would feel compelled to sign the bill.
TAPPER: There are more than 20 people running for president in your party, the Democratic Party, right now. Many of them have proposed far more sweeping gun legislation, beyond universal background checks, everything from gun licensing from Senator Cory Booker to gun buybacks.
You're from what is now a red state. You have been in the Senate since 2007. Do you think your party should focus more on gun proposals that can get through the Senate, as opposed to more far- reaching plans?
What are your views on that?
BROWN: No, I want to do something in response to this awful series of attacks on our -- on citizens, defenseless citizens.
And you start with the background check bill tomorrow. And then Congress gets serious about the assault weapon ban, which Congress has passed in the past with bipartisan support. A number of Republicans supported it. President Bush supported it.
I believe he -- he never signed it, to be clear. President Clinton signed it, but President Bush tried to get it through the Congress to renew it when it expired. So there have been prominent Republicans that support this.
Those are two things that we could do, we could do quickly. And I don't know what is next after that. We know that both of those work. And we know that, in my state, the gun lobby is every bit as powerful with the governor and with the state legislature as it is in Washington.
And I pray that my state will respond and do the right thing here too.
TAPPER: Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, it is always good to see you, sir. Sorry it is under these circumstances.
Good luck in Dayton today.
BROWN: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: Coming up, much more on our breaking news coverage of these two deadly mass shootings.
Next up, we're going to talk with presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg on his plan to combat gun violence and white nationalism.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION on this horrible, grief- stricken Sunday. I'm Jake Tapper.
We're following breaking news out of El Paso, Texas, and out of Dayton, Ohio. Dozens have been killed in two separate mass shootings.
Joining me now to respond to this horrible news, 2020 presidential candidate South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Mayor Buttigieg, thank you for joining us on this rough day.
These two shootings, El Paso, Dayton, they're some of the deadliest mass shootings in our country's history. Between them, they have left at least 29 innocent people dead, 42 injured, in a 13-hour span.
Do you think this is actually going to spur lawmakers into action?
PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, every time this happens, we say never again. We say we're going to do something. We say it's going to change. And it hasn't.
I have been thinking a lot about the fact that this same debate and this same cycle has been going on my entire adult life. And I'm wondering what it will take to get the sense of urgency, to get Washington to actually respond, especially when Americans, frankly, in both parties want to see changes, at least some basic, commonsense measures on gun safety, not to mention the need to stand up to white nationalist terrorism.
And we have got to call that what it is if we're going to fight it. I wonder what it will take to deliver the sense of urgency. After Sandy Hook, we said, surely, after this. And time and time again, this has happened.
At the end of the day, without political change, I don't know that we will get the solutions we need. But if it -- if this doesn't do it, I don't know what will.
TAPPER: You have a personal connection to the mall where the massacre in El Paso took place.
What was your emotional reaction when you first heard the news of that shooting? BUTTIGIEG: When I hear -- heard the word Cielo Vista, I thought about
being a teenager being excited that my grandma was going to take me to the mall, because we used to visit every summer.
And I just think of it as a -- as Americans should be able to think of shopping malls, as either a place to go grab something or a place that teenagers look forward to going to.
And, instead, it is a place where Americans were murdered in a terrorist attack. And it is happening all over.
To go from El Paso to Dayton in a matter of hours, and, meanwhile, to continue to deal with the fact that we lose so many lives, one at a time, to gun violence on a daily basis around the country, including in my home town, we cannot continue accepting the unacceptable, as if nothing could be done.
We are the only country in the developed world where this happens routinely. And we rub our hands as though there is some cosmic force. This is the consequence of policy failures. It is time to act.
TAPPER: There is still so much we don't know about both of these shootings.
Your gun safety plan calls for a variety of measures, from banning military-style semiautomatic rifles, to establishing a nationwide gun licensing system.
I know I don't have to list -- to list for you the mass casualty atrocities that have led Democrats to push time and time again for far -- legislation far less sweeping than what you're proposing, just closing the gun show loophole, for example, legislation that every time fails.
Is there a proposal you have to end these mass shootings or at least curtail them that you think could get through the U.S. Senate?
BUTTIGIEG: Here's the thing.
In America, things are impossible until they happen. And time and time again, to talk of something hopefully, we have seen policy breakthroughs around issue after issue in this country.
It is time for gun safety to be that issue where the impossible became possible. And, by the way, how can it be impossible at least to deliver something like universal background checks that 90 percent of Americans, most Republicans, most gun owners want to see happen?
Either this Senate needs to respond to the American people, or this Senate needs to be replaced, not to mention the need for a president who will actually do something about gun safety in this country and do something about standing up to white nationalist terror.
TAPPER: I can just tell you, as a journalist, I have literally -- pardon me -- I have been literally been covering the debate over the gun show loophole since you were in high school.
I mean, I remember covering it in 1999 and interviewing Senator John McCain when he said he was going to support closing the gun show loophole. And even that couldn't get through the U.S. Senate.
There is a tweet out there -- I forget who wrote it -- some -- it says something along the lines the moment this country decided that it was acceptable for 20 first and second graders to be massacred of Sandy Hook was the moment this country decided that it was not going to do gun control no matter what.
BUTTIGIEG: Look, at the beginning of this decade, it was considered preposterous that somebody like me could be married by the end of this decade, at least in the state of Indiana.
We have to believe in the possibility of political change. But we also have to hold our leaders accountable when they fail to deliver it. And this isn't just a policy issue. This is a cultural issue. This is a question of how we handle responsible gun ownership.
Here is something to think about this Sunday morning. Is a gun a tool or is it an idol?
Any time I have carried or handled a weapon, whether it was in Afghanistan for self-defense, or whether it was to go skeet shooting or hunting, I viewed it as a tool.
But if the gun corporation lobby, which is what the NRA is, now has people viewing guns as a thing to be loved, a thing to be protected, a thing that is a source of our freedom and power, and a thing to which we are willing to sacrifice human life, isn't that the definition of a false god?
We have got to change our thinking. We can absolutely honor Second Amendment rights for responsible gun owners without shooting down even the most basis, commonsense measures to save American lives, including our children.
Or we can fail yet again. The choice is right in front of us. The question is whether we're serious about this or not. We can't go on like this.
I was part of what I feel like was the first generation where school shootings were routine. Now we have seen a second. Are we going to allow there to be a third? Or are we going to be proud of what we have done by five, 10 years from now?
You know, on the current track we're on, we already have more guns than people in this country. But they're saying, by 2030, there will be 130 million more guns on the street.
We could tell our kids by 2030 that we finally have changed. Or we could let it be one of those issues that we just accept the unacceptable for as long as we live.
TAPPER: At the beginning of this interview, you talked about how there were two dimensions to this, the gun laws and the white supremacist ideology. Let's turn to the white supremacist ideology, if you could.
Police are investigating this document, this screed filled with white nationalist and racist hatred towards Latinos and immigrants. They believe it to be written by the alleged terrorist in El Paso, Texas.
Now, you said in response to the El Paso massacre -- quote -- "America is under attack from homegrown white nationalist terrorism." You also referenced 9/11 inspiring your generation into action. And you called for similar action once again.
Why do you think there is a reluctance in the Congress and in the FBI to label and investigate white supremacist terrorism, which is what we're seeing, in a way that there is no reluctance to condemn other forms of terrorism, Islamist or other kinds?
BUTTIGIEG: I think it is because our politicians are embarrassed. Certainly, our White House is embarrassed.
You know, there is a parallel between the failure to keep our elections safe from Russian interference, because acknowledging that that is a problem would be embarrassing to this president, who benefited from it, and the fact that confronting white nationalist terrorism would be embarrassing to a president who helped stoke many of these feelings in this country to begin with.
But it's time to turn the page. It's time to move on and actually do something.
You know, this administration actually cut funding for Homeland Security programs on countering violent extremism, and has, as far as I can tell, not produced any kind of national strategy on far-right terrorism.
After 9/11, we swore up and down we were going to be different. We said, this was going to change us. Being attacked by terrorists was going to make us better than we were.
What about this time? Is being attacked by terrorists now, homegrown white nationalist terrorists, going to make us better? Or are we going to allow those terrorists to make us worse and more divided?
The choice is ours. But it requires leadership. And we're emphatically not getting that leadership from this White House or from congressional Republicans.
Now, if the White House is beyond redemption, so be it. But congressional Republicans have a choice. Every member of Congress right now and the Senate in the Republican Party, I believe, knows better. At least some of them know better.
And one of the reasons I think so many of them are leaving is because they don't have the heart to stay, but they don't have the courage to stand up to the current reality. If there was ever a time for that to change, it is now.
TAPPER: What is the current reality?
Congressman Beto O'Rourke and Governor Jay Inslee have said they think President Trump is a white nationalist.
I mean, at best, he's condoning and encouraging white nationalism.
Look, when you have got people chanting "Jews will not replace us" in the streets of Charlottesville, and somebody gets killed in an act of terror, and the president sees very fine people there -- we have a president who made his career, politically, on demonizing Mexicans.
And now we're seeing reports that the shooter yesterday had his goal as killing as many Mexicans as possible. You don't have to use a lot of imagination to connect the dots here.
It is very clear that this kind of is being legitimized from on high. And if that were not true, the president would be acting and speaking very, very differently than what he's doing right now.
TAPPER: One last question.
The alleged shooter in El Paso could be facing the death penalty in Texas. And this seems like the kind of example of a case where you probably could get very strong support for somebody like this, a white nationalist, assuming he's found guilty in a court of law, a white nationalist, white supremacist murdering innocent people because of their race or the color of their skin.
But you don't support capital punishment. Would you oppose it in this case as well?
BUTTIGIEG: If you're against it, then you're against it.
And, of course, we can find cases of heinous situations, people perhaps who deserve to die.
I have just never met anybody who deserves to kill.
TAPPER: All right, fair enough.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg, thank you for joining us, a horrible day. Really appreciate your time.
BUTTIGIEG: Thank you.
TAPPER: Two horrific mass shootings in one awful weekend. Dozens killed in Texas and Ohio. There is much more ahead in our breaking news coverage of two American massacres. Stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [09:46:20]
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Twenty innocent people from El Paso have lost their lives and more than two dozen more are injured.
MAYOR NAN WHALEY (D), DAYTON: Clearly the question has to be raised, why does Dayton have to be the 250th mass shooting in America?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Unspeakable horror on terrible one weekend in America, just actually within 13 hours of each other, at least 29 killed after one gunman targets an El Paso, Texas Walmart and another opens fire in an entertainment district in Toledo, Ohio. Two deadly mass shootings in the span of about 13 hours. Our experts are with us to talk about this.
And, Governor McAuliffe, we've heard from some of the leading Democratic presidential candidates today, we'll hear from senators Cory Booker and Julian Castro later. It is clear your party wants to enact some further gun restrictions, whether it is closing the gun show loophole, but I don't know that it can get through the Senate. I don't any that senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, will even allow a vote on it.
TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), FORMER VIRGINIA GOVERNOR: I don't think it will. That is why elections matter. That is why next year we need to win control of the United States' Senate. If we had control of the Senate and the House, as governor of Virginia every year I put up dozens of gun bills, universal, closing the gun show loophole, getting rid of assault weapons. My Republican legislature killed it in the morning, 6:30, no recorded vote. But how many times does this have to happen until people rise up.
And you know what? I go back to the point, elections matter. This is driven by the president of the United States of America. We have got to stop him and his hate speech but we need common sense gun restrictions. Ninety-five percent of Americans are for universal background checks.
Look at what you have to go through to get on a plane, to get a driver's license. You ought to go through the same procedure to get one of these weapons.
TAPPER: Let's put a pin in it for one second on what you referred to as President Trump's hate speech. I want to get to the topic of white supremacy but let's just talk right now about guns and we'll talk about that other subject in a second.
TAPPER: You're a gun owner.
LINDA CHAVEZ, DIRECTOR, BECOMING AMERICAN INITIATIVE: I am a gun owner. I own two pistols. I don't --
TAPPER: Is there anything you think that could pass?
CHAVEZ: Well, I think there is a difference between owning a pistol as I do, a revolver, and owning a semi-automatic weapon that is meant to kill only people. I mean, these guns that are being used were not meant for hunting. They're not meant for target practice. They are meant to be used in war to kill people.
And I think that even as a Republican, as somebody who supports the right of individuals to own guns, I do not think that individuals have the right to own automatic or semi-automatic weapons.
TAPPER: So, Senator Santorum, I know you're a strong supporter of gun rights. I want you to take a look at some of these poll numbers when it comes to public support for gun safety measures. These are all from a Quinnipiac poll, a different Quinnipiac poll.
One of them universal back ground checks, 94 percent support. Another one mandatory waiting period for gun purchases, this poll is from 2018, 83 percent support. And then a poll from this year May, 77 percent support requiring individuals to obtain a license before being able to purchase a gun.
That seems like a rather far reaching measure that would be very tough to get through the Senate. But public sentiment is clearly with further restrictions on gun ownership and the U.S. Senate is not.
RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Public is for it until you have a discussion about what the consequences are. And this is -- everyone said well why doesn't this happen? It doesn't happen in the vacuum. It happens because there is actually a debate about it. There is actually -- we look at the consequences of it.
And what are the consequences of it? The consequences of it is that criminals and people who do bad things are not worried about gun laws that they're violating in order to get guns, but law-abiding people do.
And what you see from a lot of these shootings that take place, several of them this year, which is law-abiding people actually come -- not police but other law-abiding people come and stop these things. Why? Because they have the right to own guns.
And so taking that right away from law-abiding people make it harder for law-abiding people to get guns actually doesn't do anything to reduce the amount of crime and actually can make things worse.
TAPPER: Well, Texas is a concealed carry state and, you know, that gunman, that horrible person -- terrorist --
SANTORUM: Is not worried about violating gun laws if you're going to shoot --
TAPPER: But he -- but he wasn't worried about anybody packing heat in the Walmart in El Paso either is my point.
SANTORUM: And so they go to soft targets. That's exactly right. So, the whole point is when you restrict the amount of -- when you restrict guns to law-abiding people, you make more soft targets.
CHAVEZ: What law-abiding person needs an AR-15 or an A.K. weapon? These are not weapons that are used for anything.
SANTORUM: They're semi-automatic weapons.
CHAVEZ: They are use to kill people. They were invented for use in war and their only targets are to kill people.
TAPPER: I want to bring in --
MCAULIFFE: Jake, these people are bought and paid for by the NRA. So, don't (INAUDIBLE) yourself. Let's us not forget the power of the NRA in the Congress in these gerrymandered districts.
TAPPER: I want to let you respond to that, but I also don't want to lose sight on the fact, Mayor Rawlings-Blake, former mayor of Baltimore, that actually even though these mass shootings understandably because they are so horrific and so overwhelmingly get attention from the media and the public, actually in terms of homicide and gun deaths it's the little girl in south Baltimore at 7 years old, it's the handguns quite often more than the semi-automatic weapons that are responsible for this. And it's the one-offs, often in urban America.
STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE (D), FORMER BALTIMORE MAYOR: It's the one offs, the two offs. Many times in Baltimore and cities across the country, we're having nine shootings in a weekend. And I never thought that I would say there's a point in which Senator Santorum and I agree, but today, the fact is that I think the polls are correct.
People want something done. People want common sense reform but there's a debate about how to get there. And we have to talk real about the path forward. We can't keep talking about the polls and saying what people stand for, what people want to have done without people willing to have those critical conversations about how we get to better common sense, gun reform.
We know that we have to get there, but we need some legislators, we need people in Congress who have the courage to stand up to do something.
MCAULIFFE: I disagree. We have had conversation long enough. We know how to get there. We know we need universal background checks in this country.
We have debated this to death. I've debated it as a governor. Enough. It is time for the talk to stop. It is time to take action.
SANTORUM: With all due respect the areas that have the strictest gun control have some of the highest crime rates. The idea that gun control is going to solve a problem just is -- is just not factually correct. It doesn't work.
MCAULIFFE: We're not (ph) saying gun control -- they're (ph) saving lives.
SANTORUM: Three million guns in America and what you're worried about is some transfer -- some one to another? Again, with people who care not about whether they're breaking laws or not.
You're politicizing it. And this is the most frustrating thing. There are people who are suffering right now. And we're talking about a proposal that will have no impact on this.
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: But it proves my point.
TAPPER: Mayor Rawlings-Blake?
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: It proves my point. There's a debate about how we get there.
It's clear that many Democrats feel very strongly that there's a path forward. And it's also clear if you talk to Republicans off camera that many of them know that they have to do better with putting rules in place, putting laws in place to make America safer. We have to create a safe space for people to have that conversation without it being a litmus test for whether you're going to lose your NRA card or whether you're not going to be a strong Democrat.
TAPPER: I want to bring you in. Then I want to change the subject to the white supremacist.
CHAVEZ: Well, I just want to echo what Governor McAuliffe said. Donald Trump said he was going to stand up to the NRA after the Parkland shootings and then the next day, because the NRA gives a lot of money to Republican Party candidates, reversed himself.
The NRA is a corrupt organization. It is filled with people who are self dealing. It is people who are enriching themselves.
They are not representing law-abiding gun owners. They are representing a political motivation and the NRA has to be taken on, on this subject.
TAPPER: Without taking issue with that, I just want to ask, as a former lawmaker, is the NRA's power, do you think -- I mean, I understand a lot of people actually just philosophical agree with the NRA and the Senate, but do you think the NRA's power is more in their money or more in the fact that they're able to mobilize thousands of voters in states?
SANTORUM: They're powerful because of votes, because people who are out there, who support what the NRA is talking about.
[09:55:03] The idea that this is about corruption or this is about money, it's about people who are passionate about making sure that we have a safe country and that we keep our liberties and freedoms.
TAPPER: We could talk about guns for the rest of the hour. But I do want to change the subject to something else that is clearly a part of the El Paso terrorist attack, which is white supremacy.
I thought this was really interesting tweet in a statement from Texas Land commissioner, Republican George P. Bush who wrote, "I proudly served in Afghanistan as a naval officer where our mission was to fight and kill terrorists. I believe fighting terrorism remains a national priority and that should include standing firm against white terrorism here in the U.S."
It's the first time I've ever heard the term white terrorism. But it actually fits perfectly because that's what we're seeing, an epidemic of it.
CHAVEZ: And that's exactly right. And, by the way, El Paso was picked, I believe, by this man because it's an 85 percent Hispanic community.
There is a lot of hatred out there. Every time I'm on television I get hate mail that says for me to come back where I came from, and they don't mean Ireland, which is where the immigrants in my family came from.
There is a sentiment now in which the president of the United States talks about infestation. He talks about an invasion repeatedly. He is fueling this hate and I believe that he has a responsibility to stop it and to stop it now.
TAPPER: Governor McAuliffe, I want to go to you. You have a new book out called "Beyond Charlottesville: Taking A Stand Against White Nationalism."
We've heard from some of the presidential candidates today who say that President Trump's rhetoric against nonwhite Christian Americans, against immigrants, migrants, whomever, encourages violence. I mean, that's what Beto O'Rourke said starkly. Do you agree?
MCAULIFFE: Absolutely. It is the president's rhetoric, his hate speech. You know when he started his administration, banning those -- from those certain Muslim countries, ICE raids in certain areas. This has been a pattern. And then the worst was obviously Charlottesville when we had neo-Nazis and white supremacists, neo-Nazis saying, Jews you will not replace us.
Look at what the manifesto have from the person in El Paso, ethnic replacement. And this guy cites (ph) talking about Trump's white identity. David Duke in Charlottesville saying that Trump is bringing us back to a white America again. And then all the statements by the president over the last couple of months.
Donald Trump came out as a full-fledged racist in Charlottesville. I was there. I heard what these people said. Donald Trump said they were fine people.
Jake, they were not fine people. The neo-Nazis with their swastikas and Adolf Hitler t-shirts. The white supremacist scream are the most violent things I have ever heard about members of the African-American as well as members of the Jewish faith. I've never heard anything like it.
He incites this. He is culpable. Now I don't blame the president for specific acts but I do blame the president for the atmosphere that he has created in this country. Hatred and division.
TAPPER: And most recently, Mayor Rawlings-Blake, he has been attacking Baltimore. Now some people say, look, he was just returning fire because of Congressman Elijah Cummings, heads the oversight committee which subpoenaed documents from Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. But other people said that they found those attacks against Baltimore, no human being would want to live there, rodent and rat- infested, et cetera, racist. Not even racially tinged, racist. What did you think?
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: I just think he's wrong for so many reasons. The fact that you're saying that he returned fire he returned fire --
TAPPER: I said that that's what his supporters said. I didn't say it.
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: Congressman Cummings is doing his job. The president should do his, which is to represent all of America. I wouldn't be made if someone from Pittsburgh -- you know, we hate the Steelers.
So (INAUDIBLE) was from Pittsburgh --
SANTORUM: We hate the Ravens.
TAPPER: He's from Pittsburgh.
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: So you get it, right? You get it. I wouldn't be mad if someone from Pittsburgh said it or -- during football season or someone from Boston said it. That's what you're supposed to do.
But when you're the president, you're supposed to be the president of all of the -- what you consider the great parts and the gritty parts, too. Imagine if something like what happened in Dayton happened in Baltimore, no one would want to see the president step foot there. That's not his -- his role is to unite us, whether you like it or not.
When you take that role, you're supposed to love every part of this country and defend it against everyone. What he's doing is wrong. It's wrong and it's something wrong with him if he thinks that it's acceptable.
SANTORUM: Two points. Number one, look, I agree that -- you've heard me say this.
SANTORUM: The president's rhetoric is over the top. And he needs to be more conscious of the fact that -- that the rhetoric he uses can be twisted to paint a picture that is not a very complimentary picture for anybody, and he seems to just be oblivious to that. And here is the situation where they can take his rhetoric and they can say, look, you know, I give the governor credit for not saying I'm not blaming him for this specific instance, which you can't and no one should.
They will, but no one should. But the bottom line is, he is creating the opportunity for people to twist this. The second thing is, listen to the rhetoric going back. That rhetoric is equally as racist and equally as difficult for the left to do the same thing, and no one is blaming them for the violence.
TAPPER: All right --
SANTORUM: So it goes both ways when it comes to that over-hyped rhetoric.
STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE, FORMER BALTIMORE MAYOR: But because there's no --
TAPPER: Another --
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: Because there's no leftist manifesto that someone is leaving after a shooting.
SANTORUM: Well, there is. I mean, look at --
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: One shooting. That is one shooting.
SANTORUM: There's more than --
TAPPER: Everyone, stick around. Another hour of STATE OF THE UNION starts right now.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
TAPPER: Hello, I'm Jake Tapper in Washington where the state of our union is in mourning. Twenty-nine people have been killed, dozens more injured in two mass shootings in the United States, separated by 13 hours and 1600 miles. In Dayton, Ohio, today, a gunman opened fire early this morning at a popular night life district. Nine people plus the suspected gunman are dead. Here is what it sounded like from a car parked nearby.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dude, what the (EXPLETIVE DELETED)? What the (EXPLETIVE DELETED)?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Just awful. Authorities believe there was only one gunman there, that he used an AK-47 style rifle and wore body armor of some sort. There's no word as of now on a possible motive. About 13 hours earlier in El Paso, Texas, a shooter gunned down 20 innocent people at a Walmart near the U.S.-Mexico border. The 21-year-old male suspect is in custody.
Authorities are investigating a document posted online and believed to have been written by the suspected terrorist. The document is filled with white nationalist language and racist hatred, specifically toward immigrants and Latinos. Texas Governor Greg Abbott says that the incident is being investigated as a hate crime.
No on-camera comments yet from the president of the United States but he has been tweeting this morning from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. The president is saying that state, local and federal authorities are working together. He also wrote, quote, "God bless the people of El Paso, Texas. God bless the people of Dayton, Ohio," unquote.
The El Paso shooting stands now as the eighth deadliest single-day mass shooting in modern American history. Five of the top 10 have occurred since 2016.
Joining me now from El Paso, Texas, is Mayor Dee Margo.
Mayor Margo, I want to start of course by offering our deepest condolences to your community and the city of El Paso. What is the latest you can tell us about the investigation and about the survivors?
MAYOR DEE MARGO, EL PASO, TEXAS: Jake, it's ongoing. They're still processing the victims at the crime scene and verifying their next of kin and then they'll be sent to the morgue for autopsy. But the waiting is tough. It's tough. No one is prepared for this. I certainly wasn't prepared for this. But I think our police department was properly prepared when you look at the response times and how quickly they reacted, you know, the call went out at 10:39. They were there at 10:45. And 11:06, he was apprehended.
It could have been -- carnage could have been far worse. It was an evil perpetrator from outside of El Paso. And I do not believe an El Pasoan would have ever, ever done anything like this. It is not reflective of our nature and our culture. And we're a unique -- we're a unique region.
TAPPER: I have relatives who live in Texas. My understanding is that it's back to school period right now, that school starts, I think, next week. Is it your understanding that people in the Walmart were shopping for back-to-school supplies and the like?
MARGO: Oh, absolutely. It was a normal Saturday, preparing for the school year to begin. I mean, this will not define us. It's a tragedy that we have never experienced. And I hope to never, ever experience. And none of us have been prepared for it. At least our law enforcement was, but no. We're going to have to deal with this. This is not going to get any easier. I don't think anything is going to be easier until after we -- or start passing until we finished these 20 funerals. That's what I'm concerned about and the families.
TAPPER: We understand that law enforcement officials are investigating this screed, this racist anti-immigrant document they believe was written by the alleged terrorist. What do investigators know right now about that document and its hateful message?
MARGO: I have not heard anything updated. I have no updates on that. I've glanced at it. If he, in fact, did write it, he's just an evil person.
[10:05:04] And he came from outside of El Paso. He will not define us and we will recover. We are resilient. But I don't know. I don't know why. You know, we still have a lot of evil in this world and he's a representative of that.
TAPPER: People watching right now that want to help, what can they do? Is there a number? Should they support the Red Cross? I know a lot of Americans at times like this -- not just Americans, people around the world see the pain and the carnage in a city like El Paso and they want to help. What do you want them to do?
MARGO: Jake, there's a -- there are a couple of funds set up. The Paso del Norte Health Foundation has set one up and I think their Web site is PasodelNorteHealthFoundation.org or something along that line, and people can go on and donate. We're creating the fund for the victims and the city will oversee that to make sure that they do receive the funds. A lot of people are giving blood. And frankly, we need prayers. We need prayers and support.
TAPPER: Former congressman from El Paso, Beto O'Rourke, told me earlier in the show that in his view the president's anti-immigrant rhetoric is making things worse and creating an atmosphere of violence. Do you agree? Do you have any concerns about the things the president says about immigrants?
MARGO: Jake, I'm not qualified to comment on that. I'm not a talking head. I'm focusing on the El Pasoans, and the 20 deaths, and their families and what it means for this community, and how we can come together and not be victimized by this. This will not define us. We're a unique region that's been here 350 years. There's families on both side, commerce on both sides. We're bi-national and bi-cultural. We're almost 2.5 million people and our average age is 32. This will not define us.
TAPPER: The Texas Land commissioner George P. Bush said in a statement that, quote, "White terrorism is a, quote, 'real and present threat' that we must all denounce and defeat." Do you agree that white terrorism is a threat to the United States?
MARGO: Jake, I'm not qualified to respond to that any more than the previous question. I'm focusing on El Paso. There's evil in this world and it's unfortunate.
TAPPER: Four of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern American history have taken place in Texas. Does that give you any pause as to why that might be?
MARGO: I've got to tell you with all due respect, Jake, that question didn't even cross my mind. I did talk to the governor yesterday about what to expect and how to deal with it. I'm not trained to deal with this. I hope no mayor is ever trained to deal with this, nor do -- would they ever have to deal with this. But we'll persevere, we'll go through with one day at a time, we'll get through these funerals and we'll bring our community together.
TAPPER: All right. Mr. Mayor, appreciate your time. Thank you so much.
MARGO: You bet.
TAPPER: CNN law enforcement analyst Josh Campbell is on the ground in El Paso. CNN crime and justice correspondent Shimon Prokupecz is here with me in Washington, and CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem is in West Newton, Massachusetts.
Josh, let me start with you and what you're learning about the suspected shooter there. He is in custody. Is he talking to investigators?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes. We're waiting to hear, Jake, for a readout on that interview. Now unlike instances in the past with shootings where a subject is either engaged by law enforcement or killed or turns the weapon on themselves, this is one of those instances where the subject was taken into custody without incident. And so we're told -- we were told yesterday that law enforcement officers were attempting to do that interview.
We haven't received a readout as far as what he is telling officers. But again if he is proud of what he did here, again, you know, this investigation is continuing, regarding this possible manifesto, that might be tied to him. He may very well admit to officers what he did. We're just waiting for those details from our sources, Jake.
TAPPER: Shimon, let me start with you -- go to you and I want to ask you about the shooting in Dayton because we seem to have a clear idea, at least if you believe that this screed was written by the alleged terrorist in El Paso, that that was -- assuming that it's his -- that it was a hate crime, he was motivated by bigotry and hatred of Latinos.
Do we have any idea what might have motivated the Dayton shooter, whether it was a copycat, whether he also was a white supremacist? Any idea at all?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Right. That is certainly a focus of law enforcement. Was this as a result? Did this shooter in Dayton act as a result of what happened in El Paso? That that somehow triggered it. There's definitely the FBI agents there, the local investigators were Dayton police, they're certainly looking at that. There's always concern for copycats and that could possibly be the case here. We just don't know yet.
All we really know is that he's a white male in his 20s. He's from a nearby area in Montgomery County, in nearby, too, Dayton, Ohio.
[10:10:07] And that's really all we know right now. We know that he had a lot of fire power. We know he had a long rifle, AR-style weapon, and we know he came with a lot of ammunition. And really, he was -- if it wasn't for the police there, this could have been much, much worse. This guy came there, prepared to take out a lot of people. And police have made that very clear, that had they not stopped him in that one minute that they arrived on scene, this could have been far worse.
TAPPER: We know, for example, like from the Pulse Nightclub shooting, that was clearly somebody targeting gay men.
PROKUPECZ: That's right.
TAPPER: Right? Because that was a gay nightclub in Florida in 2016. Do we know anything about the places that he was targeting here?
TAPPER: The kinds of bars and nightclubs?
PROKUPECZ: No. So this are has a lot of restaurants. There's a lot of bars, thousands of people were there, the officials there said so. There's no indication as to why he was targeting this specific area. It is interesting, though, he didn't enter the bar. He did this outside. So was this just an opportunity, he saw some people gathered outside and then he just chose this as an area, or did he research this? Is there more to this than we really know right now? And hopefully, you know, when authorities give us the next update 'we'll know.
But it's a problem and they're going to need to look at this in terms of whether or not, definitely whether or not this is some kind of a copycat, whether or not the shooting in El Paso triggered this because it happened with hours after the El Paso shooting. That's something that law enforcement is definitely going to be concerned about.
TAPPER: I want to bring in Juliette Kayyem.
Juliette, police are investigating this document filled with white supremacist, racist, hatred toward immigrants and Latinos. They believe it was written by the alleged terrorist in El Paso, Texas. You have talked and I've heard you speak very articulately about what's called stochastic -- I believe that's the term. Stochastic terrorism.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes.
TAPPER: Why don't you explain to people what that is, and why that might be relevant here? KAYYEM: So stochastic terrorism is just a way of describing an
atmosphere that's created in, say, a community or a nation like ours. And it's the use of mass media, social network platforms or whatever else to amplify hatred and the targeting of specific individuals, Mexicans, African-Americans, LGBTQ community. That language incites violence, which is utterly predictable. In other words, yes, people are going to get radicalized, but the specific incident, who does it, where, how, is actually unpredictable.
And so it's a way of describing an atmosphere of radicalization as compared to, say, you know, the world I come from, counterterrorism, you know, jihadism, right, where it was very specific focus, training was involved. This is a different way of describing it. So what we're seeing -- because I read the manifesto -- is a form of white supremacy, that is what we call either replacement or displacement theory.
The sense that the existence of the other, in this case Hispanics, is a zero-sum game. Their existence makes my existence as a white male, in the case of this killer, makes it impossible. So they actually view it as an enemy. That is overlaid by a public atmosphere created by the president, I'll say it now, and others that's sort of wink and nod, give a safe haven for this kind of ideology. They don't condemn it. They actually -- you know, they basically -- it's not shamed. That's the word I've been using in the last 24 hours.
KAYYEM: It's now shamed and we need to shame it publicly.
TAPPER: So --
KAYYEM: From the White House on down.
TAPPER: Hold that thought. I'm going to come back to you but right now the mayor of Dayton, Nan Whaley, is holding another news conference on the shooting. Let's listen in.
MAYOR NAN WHALEY, DAYTON, OHIO: Body armor and used an AK-like gun assault rifle, 223 caliber with high capacity magazines and he had additional magazines with him as well. We had 10 fatalities, including the shooter. That number is still the same from this morning. And we have had -- the hospitals have had 27 people treated and 15 discharged as of 10:00 this morning.
In less than one minute, Dayton first responders neutralized the shooter. I'm just still completely amazed at the heroic nature of our police department where they did first aid, stopped the shooter with under a minute and so we're grateful for their service.
If you're a family or a friend of a victim and have questions you can call 937-333-8430, or come to the convention center. And if you have any information on the incident as this incident is ongoing please call 937-225-6217.
We are grateful for all of the supporters and folks helping us from the American Red Cross, (INAUDIBLE), the FBI, ATF, et cetera.
[10:15:08] The community blood bank is supporting the hospitals and we are working with them to set up blood donation opportunities. We will have more information about that in the coming hours. At 8:00 p.m. tonight the community will hold a vigil for the families and those that have lost their life. We'll have a location for you, again in the coming hours. The Oregon District will be opened coming this afternoon in the early afternoon.
OK. I'm going to let some folks speak and we'll do questions. First, I'd like to have Dr. Semon come forward and make a few remarks.
DR. GREG SEMON, MIAMI VALLEY HOSPITAL: Thank you, Mayor Whaley. Again, I'm Dr. Greg Semon, I'm a trauma surgeon at Miami Valley Hospital, which is a level one trauma center for the greater Dayton region. Our facility activated our mass casualty incident plan around 1:30 a.m. this morning in association with the mass casualty incident here in downtown Dayton. That mobilized our entire team.
Our facility received a total of 16 patients, of which 12 have been already treated and released. We do have a total of four patients that are currently admitted and one remains in critical condition. Some of those patients have undergone or will undergo surgery later today.
We are continuing to support the many families who are arriving at our facility and our thoughts and prayers are certainly with all of those families. We worked in conjunction with other facilities in the area to identify, treat and communicate information in a timely manner to these families.
WHALEY: Thank you. All right. Next, we'll have Elizabeth Long who's from the Kettering Health Network.
ELIZABETH LONG, KETTERING HEALTH NETWORK: Good morning. Kettering Health Network is a health system with nine hospitals. We received patients at three of our nine hospitals. Grand View Medical Center, which is in Dayton, received the most. We had nine people treated, seven were brought in by squad and two walked in. Of those nine patients, three are in serious condition, three are in fair condition, and three were treated and then discharged.
Two were taken to surgery immediately. One person is still being considered for surgery. The injuries ranged from gunshot wounds to the lower extremities to abdominal wounds. One person came in for laceration to a foot that happened during the chaos right after that incident.
At Kettering Medical Hospital, our flagship hospital, one person was brought in and is in serious condition. And at Soy Medical Center two people were brought in and were treated and then released.
We want to commend our hospital staff all the way from our E.R. physicians and nurses and technicians, to the people who came in right away when we called the code yellow, alerting people that we needed backup. We just want to commend them for the great job they did. Also commending city of Dayton Police and first responders. So we know they're in the first line and they're the first line of treatment for people coming in. So we just wanted to commend them for a job well done.
WHALEY: Thank you very much. Thanks. We have an organization that we work with when we have incidents called Police and Community Together or -- clergy, I'm sorry. Thank you. Police and Clergy Together. Having a hard time. Your prayers, please. And so we'd like to have Pastor Burks come forward and say a few words about the clergy's perspective.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mayor. First, we just want to say as have already been stated, our prayers and thoughts are with all the victims and their families. Second, we do want to just really acknowledge the police department, the Dayton Police Department, their quick response. We were very thankful for that, and the first responders.
We have a (INAUDIBLE), we just want to let the community know that we've been here from the start. We've been counseling family members. We have a variety of resources. We are here, and we will remain here. So we just want to let you know that this is a community effort and we're doing everything we can to help out in a situation like this.
[10:20:02] WHALEY: Thank you, Pastor. OK, guys. Question? Yes?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE).
WHALEY: Well, certainly it's a Sunday so some of the businesses were -- you know, typically, some of them take Sunday and Monday off because it's mostly local but it's up to each business if they want to open. The street will be open this afternoon.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- to go back down to the Oregon District?
WHALEY: The Oregon District is one of the safest places in the whole region. You know, these senseless acts of violence that occur have been happening any place. And I don't mean to scare people but frankly, I mean, we're in a situation now in our country that you're really -- you know, these are so random, there's no place that, you know, where you could say, oh, I just don't ever want to go anywhere. So as far as the safety, the district is one of the safest places in the whole region.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Does anyone, except the hospitals, (INAUDIBLE) --
TAPPER: That's the mayor of Dayton, Ohio, talking about the shooting earlier this morning in her city, a shooting that happened roughly 13 hours after a different mass shooting in the United States in El Paso, Texas.
I want to go back to the point that Juliette Kayyem, formerly with the Department of Homeland Security in President Obama's administration, was making. And Juliette, we can start at beginning because people are now just
tuning in. There is a term called stochastic terrorism. You were explaining what it means and why it might be relevant to some of these acts by white supremacists, terrorists, whether at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh or at the Walmart in El Paso, yesterday, why it might be relevant to these horrific acts of white terrorism that we're seeing.
KAYYEM: Right. So the idea of radicalization, how it occurs, depends on the terrorist organization. So just to give sort of a comparison, think of al Qaeda where that kind of radicalization took place in Afghanistan, a close-knit group. You know, you had to fight with bin Laden. That has changed over time because of social media, because of the nature of terrorism.
What we're seeing and how we're beginning to describe white terrorism or white supremacy terrorism, is it's a form of stochastic terrorism. In other words, platforms, social media platforms, pulpits, wherever else, are being utilized to radicalize groups of people against, you know, the other, right, the Mexican, the LGBTQ community, whoever else. And that means that one of those people, one of those listeners could become radicalized and violent. That's utterly predictable.
What's unpredictable is what they're going to do, when they're going to do it, and who they're going to target. So we begin to talk about radicalization in these terms, as stochastic terrorism, and the point I was making before at the press conference, that means that there's a responsibility at the top with President Trump, the White House and leadership which is to not give a safe haven or to amplify this hatred because the listener is likely to become radicalized.
I'm not going to blame Donald Trump for this specific event. What I will blame the White House and Donald Trump for is not shaming the white nationalism. Look, ideologies don't die. Bad ideologies don't die. Nazism didn't die with World War II. Nazis still exist. They became shamed. Like you couldn't get a -- you couldn't get a job. You couldn't go -- you know, you couldn't go out in the world as a Nazi, right? And you minimize the ideology, you shame it in civil society.
We're not -- the president is not shaming it. So I use that term shaming about what the president's responsibility is. It's not both side-ism. It isn't a wink and a nod. You need to shame this stuff, and isolate it and make these people feel like they're not part of a greater movement that is condoned by the White House.
TAPPER: All right. Juliette Kayyem, I appreciate it.
Phil Mudd, you're former senior official with the FBI. Tell us what you think is going on right now in the investigation in El Paso.
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: There's a couple of pieces. You got to look back. You got to look forward. The looking forward piece would be the first thing I'd be thinking. We've been talking about copycats, people on the radar who have some psychological issues. They would be followed in every place from New York to Los Angeles to El Paso. You've got to ensure that somebody doesn't look at this event who's already on the radar or who are family sees, for example, who has issues, and says, if that person can do it, I should have the courage to go out and act on my anger myself.
So there's -- in addition to the stuff Americans ask about when they're watching us, what was the motive, looking back, you've got to be careful that nobody gets motivated to go forward and do the same thing.
In the looking back piece, one quick comment. This is an area where the media will outpace the people who are experts for one simple reason. We have a motivation, it looks like, in El Paso. That's a document. But we don't know answers to questions I would have if I were in the business. Was this individual having family issues? Did he break up with his girlfriend yesterday? Did he get fired yesterday? Are there other contradictory items on his computer that suggest a competing ideology?
[10:25:02] This quickly in, I could draw conclusion that the document we saw in El Paso is probably the motivation but I'm not 100 percent yet.
TAPPER: And as you noted, Shimon, one of the things that the police and the FBI in Dayton are looking for, is this a copycat, as you talked about?
PROKUPECZ: Yes. Yes.
TAPPER: Somebody looking forward.
PROKUPECZ: Yes. And the other concern now of the FBI, you know, we've heard the concern from the FBI director, local law enforcement is very concerned about this. So they have to start going through 8chan, these other platforms where this stuff is living, where people are reading and consuming and perhaps maybe getting radicalized by consuming all of this. There's a lot of concern that if the FBI doesn't step in and start doing more than the local law enforcement is going to have to do more on this issue. Because there is a lot of concern now across big police departments in this entire country that this is going to continue to happen. And is there something they can do to prevent this?
TAPPER: My next guest has made trying to stop or at least curtail gun violence a central part of his 2020 presidential campaign. He's calling for a federal gun licensing system and a ban on what are called assault weapons.
Joining me now in New Jersey, Democratic Senator Cory Booker.
Senator Booker, I would say good morning, but it's not a good morning.
Two shootings in less than 13 hours, 29 people killed, 42 people injured or wounded.
What was your reaction when you heard about the El Paso shooting, and then you wake up and hear about Dayton?
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First of all, the horror of it.
Having been the mayor of a big city, you know the horrors of mass shootings and what it does. And so, first and foremost, obviously, your thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims, the families who have lost people, the people who now have months, years of recovery.
But you also know that thoughts and prayers are not enough.
And I turn my attention to the person who is leading this country, who is, in my opinion, in this moral moment, who is failing. And I think that, at the end of the day, especially because this was a white supremacist manifesto, that I want to say with more moral clarity that Donald Trump is responsible for this.
He's responsible because he is stoking fears and hatred and bigotry. He is responsible because he's failing to condemn white supremacy and see it as it is, which is responsible for such a significant amount of the terrorist attacks.
He's responsible because he is president of the United States, and has failed to do anything significant to stop the mass availability of weapons to people who intend to do harm.
And, lastly, he's responsible because leaders take responsibility. We are responsible for each other in this culture, in this society. And our president, in the highest moral position in the land, should be taking responsibility in this painful, difficult moment, and coming forward and telling us what he will do to address hate, to address white supremacy, to address the availability of guns, to address this mass violence.
His talking about the cowardice of others is more of a reflection of his failure to take responsibility and cowardice in a time that we need courageous leadership.
TAPPER: Now, the screed, the document that law enforcement is currently looking into about whether or not this terrorist, this white supremacist in El Paso, wrote it, he uses the language that we have heard from the president, in terms of calling migrants coming into this country an invasion -- it's in the second sentence of this manifesto or screed -- which is obviously something that President Trump has said.
But the shooter also said that he thought this way and had these beliefs before President Trump and that President Trump is not responsible.
I don't know how you make sense of any of this, but what did you think when you -- when you saw that?
BOOKER: Well, a mass murderer who's trafficking in hatred and bigotry all -- literally trying to give some kind of exculpatory evidence -- reaction to the president, I mean, come on.
Our president right now is using the same language of racism, of bigotry and white supremacy. The way this president is talking about immigrants, the way he's talking about minorities in this country, these are the words that are used by the kind of folks that are in the darkest corners of the Internet and, as we see in this terrorist attack, the kind of people that ultimately manifest that hatred and violence.
And for him not to take responsibility for that is a moral failing. And for him not to understand his failure to condemn it or see the seriousness, the majority of terrorist attacks since 9/11 have been right-wing extremists. The majority of those have been white supremacists.
And we have a president that not only is failing to call out white supremacy, who, in Charlottesville tried to create a savagely false equivalency, but he himself is using the language of hate on a regular basis to talk about congresspeople, to condemn urban places, to talk about immigrants.
He is responsible in his language. And he is fueling and giving license to this kind of hate in our country.
TAPPER: There's this theory, I think it's called stochastic terrorism, which is the idea of a leader using the mass media to demonize a particular group, whether it's Jews or immigrants or whomever, and then what appears to be lone wolf individual psychotics attacking that one group, where the individual attack is not predictable, but the general trend of it is predictable because of the amplification of the bigotry.
And it sounds like you are saying, not to be using -- you're not using the clinical term of stochastic terrorism, but it sounds like you are, in a way, holding President Trump responsible for some of these individual acts, whether it's the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting or El Paso.
BOOKER: Jake, I just want to continue to speak in this time with moral clarity.
We are a nation where we -- as a poet says, we are each other's bond. We are each other's magnitude. We belong to each other.
And we have a president of the United States who is savagely fraying the bonds of our nation by speaking consistently words of hatred, words of division, words of demonization and demagoguery. He is fueling a climate that is tearing at the fabric and fueling an environment where -- where white supremacists and people who have ill will are finding more and more license to strike out against the vulnerable, to strike out against the immigrant, to strike out against -- quote, unquote -- "the other."
This is a moral moment in our country, and our president is failing in his moral role to unite this nation, to heal, to bring about the best of humanity in America. And so he is responsible for what is going on and is doing nothing,
nothing to stop the carnage and the chaos, nothing in terms of gun legislation, nothing in terms of taking steps against white supremacy that we should take, nothing in terms of the kind of rhetoric that elevates, that brings together, that bonds.
Instead, he is ripping at our nation. He's tearing people down. He's tearing us apart.
This is a moral moment, and he is failing this nation. And what we saw in this last 24 hours, he must be held responsible.
TAPPER: Let's talk about the bold, ambitious, overreaching, depending on one's point of view, I suppose, gun control plan that you have said you would pursue as president.
As you know, the Senate has been reluctant to take up any gun legislation in the wake of mass shootings, including after 20 little children were killed at Sandy Hook, whether it's universal background checks or red flag laws.
What are you proposing that you think you could actually get through the Senate?
And I'm sorry to put it -- you're talking about morality, and I totally appreciate that on a morning like this. But there also is the -- there's morality and then there's what can get through the Senate.
BOOKER: Well, again, remember Strom Thurmond, longest filibuster in Senate history was to try to stop civil rights legislation.
But we were this nation that, when people died, whether it was the Shirtwaist Factory fire, we changed laws in the Senate in response to women throwing themselves out windows, dying -- to their death in those -- in those sweatshops.
We were a nation that overcame filibusters in the Senate when four girls were killed in a bombing. We responded.
And so now here we are in a moral moment again. And it's not four girls or the horrific deaths of women. This is mass shooting after mass shooting. Before we can even bury our dead, another one happens.
And so you want to know about a president that will take responsibility? Don't tell me what can't get done. The Senate is a -- replete with a history of things that could not pass, but then did.
What we need is a leader who is going to have a bold and ambitious plan.
And let me tell you, I make no bones about it. I challenge everyone in the Democratic primary race to have -- to join me on commonsense things like gun licensing.
If, in this country, you need a license to drive a car, you should need a license to buy and possess a firearm. States that have done that have seen dramatic drops in shootings.
And the problem is, right now, as we saw recently in Gilroy -- and Gavin Newsom spoke to this, the governor of California -- that we now have a reality where, because laws are actually getting strict in some states, the way these mass shooters get their weapons, go to the neighboring state with less laws.
We need to stop this patchwork of laws in our country that endangers people everywhere. We need to have a federal policy of gun licensing, of one handgun a month, of the kind of things I put out in my plan that are evidence-based, that will drive down shootings, will end this nightmare of the kind of carnage we're seeing.
And I challenge every Democrat to stand up in this moral moment and say that I will do what is necessary to protect folks.
And, by the way, we will -- how will I get that done? The same way we have gotten big things done all the time, is having leaders, number one, who are willing to stand up and put forth a bold vision, a dream of where this country should go, and then muster the moral majority, muster the majorities in Congress to get it done.
That's the kind of leader I will be.
TAPPER: Last question, sir.
And that is, the mass shootings shock us, and they horrify us, 20 people killed in El Paso, nine people killed in Dayton. But, as you know better than I, being the mayor of Newark, most gun deaths are not from mass shootings. Most gun deaths are not from semiautomatic weapons.
Most gun deaths, in terms of homicides, are from handguns. And they're individuals like the people that you invoke, the victims on the street in Newark.
How would your gun legislation prevent those, the ones that don't get the media attention because they're one-offs, they're incidents that take place in the inner city, and, frankly, because they're individual and because it takes place in high-crime areas, the media doesn't pay as much attention to it?
BOOKER: Well, Jake, that's why this is such a personal issue for me.
And this is why I feel so driven, because when mass shooting to mass shooting is as frequent as they're getting, where we barely even have a time to digest one in our -- in our gut, we see another one happen, but the reality is, in communities like mine, you see these happening with chilling frequency, every day in America, 100 people dying due to gun violence.
And, for me, having seen a child teenager bleed out, trying vainly to stop them from bleeding, seeing shrines on street corners with teddy bears and candles to children killed, going to the perversion of a funeral where parents are burying their children, this is what drives me on this issue and why I'm going to use every moment of this presidential campaign and, God willing, in my presidency to drive this point home.
We need full measures, full-throated commitment to deal with this uniquely American problem.
What Americans need to know is, this does not happen in any way, in any way, in other countries, unless they're in war, that we have had more people die in this nation in the last 50 years to this gun violence crisis than all of our wars combined, from the Revolutionary War to the wars in the Middle East.
This is a uniquely American problem. But I believe we can solve it with that unique American spirit that just says, enough. We are going to do the things we know that can protect our families and our communities and our houses of worship and our concerts and our malls.
We have to stop this before it visits upon your community. This is a time for moral courage. It is a time for a more courageous empathy. We need leaders that take responsibility.
TAPPER: All right, Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, thanks for joining us on this -- this tough day.
Appreciate it, sir.
BOOKER: Thank you.
TAPPER: After the massacre in El Paso yesterday, authorities are investigating a potential nexus to terrorism looking at a document posted online and believed to have been written by the suspected terrorist in El Paso, the document filled with white nationalist language and racist hatred towards immigrants and Latinos specifically.
Now I want to bring in the former HUD secretary and the former mayor of San Antonio, and the only Latino in the 2020 presidential field.
Joining me now, presidential candidate Secretary Julian Castro.
Secretary Castro, thanks for joining us on this horrible morning.
Tell us how you reacted when you learned about these horrific mass murders.
JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think like all other Americans did, heartbroken.
I have a family. I can only imagine what the families in El Paso and in Dayton this morning are going through.
And I also think, like many people, it is infuriating to see another two mass shootings, when we average a mass shooting a day now in the United States, and we know what we need to do to change as a country. I think I have both of those feelings this morning.
TAPPER: Well, what do we need to do to change as a country? What can be done to, if not stop this, at least curtail it?
CASTRO: We need to do a whole slew of things, from ensuring that we have universal background checks, to limiting the capacity of magazines, to ensuring that we have red flag laws out there that are able to catch individuals who may represent a danger to themselves or to other people.
We also need a renewed weapons ban, so that these semiautomatic weapons, these weapons of war, are not out there on the streets.
And most Americans, I believe, support these kinds of measures, but because of the inaction of Congress, of politicians who listen to special interests, instead of listening to the American people, we haven't made the progress that we should.
TAPPER: Let's talk about the El Paso shooting in your home state.
Law enforcement officials are right now investigating a document that they believe was written by the alleged shooter, the alleged terrorist. And this document is filled with white nationalist and racist hatred towards immigrants, specifically Hispanics.
You would be the first Latino man ever elected president. I don't know if you read the document or have read about it. But I'm wondering what your reaction is.
CASTRO: Just -- I did have a chance to read through the manifesto.
And, I mean, this is something that represents the complete opposite of the country that I know and the state of Texas that I know.
What's special about a place like El Paso and a city like San Antonio that I'm from are that, now for generations, it has been a bicultural place where people of different backgrounds get along. They go to church together. They go to school together. They live near one another. There is a lot of, you know, camaraderie, a sense of community.
It's so different from the picture that that shooter was painting of what we can become in the United States. And I know that his dark heart does not reflect what's in the hearts of the vast majority of Americans, no matter what their background is. And this is another example of the hate, the bigotry that we have to reject.
It also points to the fact that we need leadership at every level in our public and private life that is encouraging people to understand each other, to have compassion and respect for one another, and to appreciate our differences, instead of to fuel bigotry and hate and division.
TAPPER: Your campaign rival and fellow Texan former Congressman Beto O'Rourke said -- quote -- "President Trump's racism does not just offend our sensibilities. It fundamentally changes the character of this country, and it leads to violence."
You haven't gone that far this morning. Do you think that Congressman O'Rourke is saying something that's unfair? Do you see any sort of link between the comments the president makes and this kind of violence? What do you think?
CASTRO: Well, I believe that President Trump is making it worse.
Look, the person that is responsible for the shooting is the shooter. At the same time, if you're in a position of leadership, you set the tone for the country. And there is no question that this president is setting a tone of division and fanning the flames of bigotry and of hate, and is not making it any better. He's making it worse.
And so I do believe that President Trump himself -- I hope that, personally, the events of the last 24 hours will cause him to reflect on the kind of president that he has been and what he wants for this country, so that, as he goes forward, he can try and unify the country more than he has.
Sometimes, for some people -- and I believe this goes for the president -- division is a political strategy. Bigotry, it's a way of stirring some people up, so that they will vote for you.
TAPPER: President Trump condemned the shooting in El Paso. He called it a -- quote -- "hateful act and an act of cowardice."
What's your response to that? Is that enough?
CASTRO: The president needs to be quicker in the future to routinely condemn the type of hate that we see in this country and to refrain from stirring up that kind of bigotry.
Whether it's at those rallies or after what happened in Charlottesville, this president has been terrible when it comes to trying to bring us together as Americans.
TAPPER: Four of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern American history took place in your home state of Texas; 26 people were killed at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs in 2017, 23 killed at Luby's Cafeteria in 1991, 18 killed at the University of Texas in 1966, now 20 people killed in El Paso.
What do you make of that fact, that almost half of the most deadly shootings in the United States in modern American history have happened in your state of Texas?
CASTRO: The NRA for years has said that the answer to these mass shootings is more guns, that a good guy with a gun is the answer.
But I will tell you, Jake, think about this. And I hope that your viewers will think about this. We're in Texas. That shooter went into a situation where people routinely carry guns. Concealed carry is allowed here. Open carry is allowed here. Campus carry is allowed here. He knew that, if he was going into a Walmart with 1,000 or 2,000
people in it, certainly, people are packing.
That didn't deter him. That didn't deter him at all. And it didn't keep those people safe.
TAPPER: Your fellow presidential candidate Cory Booker suggested that even 2020 candidates who don't support his gun licensing plan requiring every gun owner in America to get a license, the same way drivers would get a driver's license, that, if you don't support it, you're part of the problem.
Do you support gun licensing? And, if not, how do you respond to Senator Booker?
CASTRO: I do think that we have to strengthen our laws when it comes to knowing who has these guns, when they're sold, who do they change hands into.
And so I think that Cory Booker has a good point about having more information about who has these guns.
But we also have to combine that with things like red flag laws that give courts the ability to take guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them in the first place, people who represent a danger to themselves or to somebody else.
TAPPER: Secretary Castro, thanks so much for joining us today on this horrible Sunday.
We appreciate your time, sir.
CASTRO: Thank you.
TAPPER: Much more on our breaking news coverage of these two awful mass shootings. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX): Let's not mince words right now that this president is encouraging greater racism and not just the racist rhetoric but the violence that so often follows.
TAPPER: Do you think President Trump is a white nationalist?
O'ROURKE: Yes, I do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Democratic presidential candidate and El Paso resident Beto O'Rourke, the Congressman from the area, not mincing any words today in his response to two deadly shootings, one them in El Paso, his home city apparently fueled by white supremacist notions and hatred.
I want to now, Anti-Defamation League now says that the shooting in El Paso on Saturday may be the third deadliest act of violence by domestic extremists in the United States in more than 50 years.
Our panel is back with me. Amanda Carpenter, you're new on the panel here. Your reaction to the horrific news out of El Paso and Dayton, Ohio?
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Like I said, I've been pretty watching carefully what republicans have been saying and I kind of come down here right now. If the only thing you can muster to offer are thoughts and prayers, then those thoughts should be very clear and unequivocal about condemning white terrorism.
If the words radical Islamic terrorist can roll off your tongue when incidents happen that are motivated from that ideology, it should equally roll off your tongue when it happens in another case.
TAPPER: Why do you think it doesn't?
CARPENTER: I don't know. I don't know. It's a refusal to acknowledge the problem before us. And if you cannot name the problem, you will never solve it. And so that's where I'm hung up. Why can't we call it for what it is when we easily identify it in other cases?
RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know what -- clearly, the person in El Paso was a white supremacist. I'm very happy call him a white -- look, I don't know of any republican who wouldn't say that what we saw in El Paso, given the manifesto and given this legitimacy and everything that works out, is clearly an act of white supremacy and should be called that, and it's terrorism in its worst form.
TAPPER: With all due respect, you're not a current office holder, I think is what she's talking about.
SANTORUM: I don't think you're going to see any hesitancy from anybody going out there and saying that.
FMR. MAYOR STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE (D-MD): You see it already. There has been -- there has -- the President won't even call it what it is.
TAPPER: He did issue a tweet condemning it but he didn't call it white supremacist ideology. He didn't call it white nationalism.
SANTORUM: And he should. When it gets confirmed, he should.
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: And when he thinks it's an act by a Muslim, if he thinks it is Islamic terrorism, he jumps out before any facts are known and calls it that. I'm not suggesting that he'll do that in this case, as far as jumping out ahead of the facts, but we need more leaders in office who are willing to say, you're saying that you don't know any republicans that won't condemn it. Look at the office holder's Tweets. Look at what they're putting out. Very few are calling it what it is that are actual office holders. They might tell you personally but --
TAPPER: I want to ask you a question because it is relevant to the conversation we're having right now, which is you heard Juliette Kayyem, former DHS Official with the Obama administration talking about it, and I know I'm going to mess up the pronunciation of this, but I think it's stochastic terrorism, which is the idea that people around are out there, leaders, and Juliette said, President Trump, fueling the idea of hatred towards a specific group, in this case, immigrants.
And then while there is no specific link between any of these leaders, whether it's info wars or whatever, saying these hateful things. Then there's violence against these individuals. And the theory is that it is part -- it is all part and parcel, even though the individual acts cannot be predicted, it is part and parcel of the same thing.
You used to be an FBI official.
PHILLIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Yes.
TAPPER: Do you agree with that theory?
MUDD: Let's be clear. There's a difference between a sociopath and the tone set by the President of the United States. Let me offer a terrorism perspective on this, but nobody is responsible for a sociopath killing children. They are responsible for tone.
The same thing happened during the days of Al Qaeda. Somebody sets a tone, that is Al Qaeda, that says, violence is valid. If you do a numbers game, 330 million Americans, somebody, a sociopath, is going to look at the current environment, the conversation about immigrants, for example, and say, well, that validates the hatred I have.
There is a separation between a tone set by a leader and the acts of a sociopath. Nonetheless, the leadership is responsible for tone. Do not give anybody validation for violence by suggesting that immigrants are bad. So disconnect, sure, in terms of responsibility for an individual act, but political leaders are responsible for tone.
Last comment, President Bush, after 9/11, I thought his tone was right on. Careful, guys. This is not about Islam. This is about going after people who are responsible for murdering almost 3,000 innocent Americans. He was really good.
TAPPER: And what's interesting about this theory is that, you know, you hear conservatives all the time, rightly so, in my opinion, talk about the tone set by people in the Arab world, Palestinian leaders talking about -- and the way they talk about Israelis, justifying in the same way you're doing, no direct link necessarily between what the leader says and the violence between some poor Israeli girl and a pizzeria, but the idea that you're validating this hatred and yet people don't -- I mean, you can't compare the ideology of Hamas with anything else. But at the same time, either tone matters or it doesn't.
CARPENTER: No leader in America, I don't care whether you're a mayor, dogcatcher, President of the United States, no one who wants to do violence in this country should think that they have a friend in higher office. That just needs to stop.
But when you look at these mass shootings on the rise since 2012, to me, the big thing that has changed is the internet. And so, clearly, people are being radicalized online by the internet. And maybe the President's messages are filtering down. We don't know what.
But, certainly, we have it in our capacity to do a task force or something to start figuring this out because something is very wrong here and it needs to be looked at in a smart, responsible, non- partisan way.
SANTORUM: When the President condemned violence this morning, unequivocally, he has consistently condemned violence, so the idea that the President hasn't been clear. When you compare that to Hamas and to the Palestinian authority, which rewards the families of terrorists who actually --
TAPPER: I said there's no comparison.
SANTORUM: There's a fundamental difference.
TAPPER: I said there's no comparison, but the question is --
SANTORUM: There is no comparison. And I think you shouldn't have brought that comparison because --
TAPPER: The tone matters or it doesn't. But either matters or it doesn't.
SANTORUM: Tone does matters but you can't separate the fact the President has been very clear, violence is unacceptable in any form. So he's --
TAPPER: I don't know if we have the clip ready, but three months ago, the President was in the Panhandle of Florida and he was talking about the threat of migrants coming over the border, okay? And somebody yelled, kill them. And he chuckled and the audience chuckled. And the President said, only in the Panhandle can you get away with that, only in the Panhandle.
So I appreciate that there are individual Tweets and statement that the President has said condemning violence. But the idea that he has consistently done so is not true.
SANTORUM: Well, I think he was --
TAPPER: I'm sorry, they said, shoot them, not kill them. Shoot them. SANTORUM: He should have condemned that. And, look, the idea that the President is somehow another responsible or promoting violence is over the top.
TAPPER: And he's responsible for his tone though.
SANTORUM: I agree with Phil that he is responsible for his tone. His tone has been curious to horrible at times, and he needs to understand that people can twist that tone for malicious purposes.
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: He promotes violence all the time when he suggests that, you know, send her home, send her back, when -- if you are at the rallies and you're a reporter and you are being physically threatened, that is a tone that's being set. When -- you know, you can't ignore the fact that with a wink and a nod, he sends official statements that says violence is bad. And then everything he does when he's off the script is, you know, pay for the legal bills or the person who punches someone at a rally, you know, that he has a tone that's rough and gruff and aggressive all the time.
TAPPER: 30 seconds.
CARPENTER: Yes. I would just make a point. Even if you don't agree that President Trump has a role to inciting the violence, I want to ask what does he do to make anyone feel safe. We're afraid to go to the movies. We're afraid to go to swim. We're afraid to go to church. Where is the safe place in America right now from gun violence?
TAPPER: And that predated Trump, but a lot of people today arguing he has not made it better.
I'll be back at noon with the very latest on this horrible story. CNN has much more on these mass shootings. Next, we will be live at --