President Trump’s remarks Monday condemning the horrific mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton did little to quell the anger from 2020 Democratic hopefuls who are blaming his rhetoric as well as inaction on gun control in part for the violence, as they level uncensored attacks on the president and Republicans in Congress.
In the wake of the back-to-back mass shootings that left at least 31 dead, the Democratic presidential candidates have dropped the usual decorum surrounding even tense policy debates like gun control, using coarse language to demonstrate their exasperation over the GOP response to gun violence and their calls for new gun control measures.
“Listening to the president,” New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said Monday after Trump’s speech, in comments shared on Twitter by his campaign manager. “Such a bulls—t soup of ineffective words.”
Another candidate, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, on Monday tweeted “Fck me” after Trump mistakenly, at one point in his speech, said the Ohio shooting took place in Toledo. (It happened in Dayton.)
For Ryan, the language appears to be part of a deliberate approach: Earlier Monday, the longshot candidate went on CNN and tore into Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, saying, “Mitch McConnell needs to get off his a– and do something.” On Sunday, he also tweeted, “Republicans need to get their s— together and stop pandering to the NRA. Period.”
Other Democrats trying to weigh in amid a storm of political reaction, like former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, are taking a similar approach. O’Rourke, who represented El Paso, the site of the shooting in Texas on Saturday, expressed his unvarnished anger when asked if he thinks Trump can make the situation better.
“What do you think?” O’Rourke reportedly shot back at the press. “You know the s— he’s been saying. He’s been calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. I don’t know, like, members of the press, what the f—?”
Democratic leaders in Congress have called on Trump to support new gun restrictions and for McConnell to allow a vote in the GOP-controlled Senate on Democrat-supported gun control language that has passed in the House.
“In February, the new Democratic House Majority promptly did its duty and passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which is supported by more than 90 percent of the American people and proven to save lives,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a joint statement after Trump’s speech. “However, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has called himself the ‘grim reaper’ and refuses to act on this bipartisan legislation.”
They added: “It is incumbent upon the Senate to come back into session to pass this legislation immediately.”
In his speech Monday, Trump did not call for explicit changes to gun laws beyond so-called “red flag laws” that would take guns from those deemed a public risk. However, he said he is open and ready to listen to ideas “that will actually work.”
But in a statement that riled Democrats, he said: “Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Jason Donner contributed to this report.