Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said in an interview Monday that a campaign event held by President Donald Trump last week “was almost an impromptu Nuremberg rally,” implicating Trump supporters with an invocation of Nazism.
“Yes, President Trump is a racist. What we saw in North Carolina last week was almost an impromptu Nuremberg rally, inciting hatred and ultimately, I think implicit in that, is violence against people based on the color of their skin, based on their religion, based on their difference from the majority of Americans,” O’Rourke told ABC News. “And it is in keeping the President who describes Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals, who describes asylum seekers as animals or an infestation, who says that Klansmen are ‘very fine people.’ It’s very clear the path that he is taking us on.”
O’Rourke was referring to a campaign event held in Greenville, North Carolina, in which the President doubled down on his racist rhetoric against progressive minority members of Congress – including Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, who was born in Somalia but has since become a naturalized US citizen – which was met with chants from a crowd yelling “send her back.” Trump stood there at length as the crowd chanted, though he later claimed he disapproved of their chant.
Last week, Trump tweeted, “I don’t have a racist bone in my body!”
O’Rourke has previously compared the President’s comments on illegal immigration to “rhetoric that you might have heard during the Third Reich.”
The Nuremberg rallies were organized by the Nazi Party between 1923 and 1938. Following Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, the rallies largely served as annual Nazi propaganda events in which the German dictator would deliver speeches to his supporters.
When asked about the history of Ellis Island, O’Rourke was more optimistic, calling the island “a reminder of American history at its best, and at its worst.” The presidential candidate even drew on a personal connection to the island in the interview, by referring to El Paso as the “Ellis Island of today.”
“Perhaps millions of people who become Americans coming from Mexico and El Salvador and the Western hemisphere first set foot in the United States in my hometown,” said O’Rourke, an El Paso native. “So, though we’re about 2,000 miles apart, El Paso and New York, we’re connected in that common story of America.”
O’Rourke, a former congressman from Texas, is currently polling at 2% in New Hampshire among the crowded Democratic 2020 field, according to a CNN poll conducted earlier this month by the University of New Hampshire. He will appear on the first night of next week’s CNN Democratic primary debate.