Democratic candidates black Trump
Democratic candidates black Trump

Democratic presidential candidates sought to lay blame President Donald Trump following a pair of mass shootings in Ohio and Texas, saying his language against minorities promotes racial division and violence.

At public events and on television, several candidates pointed to a need for more gun restrictions, such as universal background checks. But they directed much of their criticism at Trump, seeking to draw a link between the shootings in Dayton and El Paso that have left more than two dozen dead and months of presidential rhetoric against immigrants and people of color.

“There is complicity in the president’s hatred that undermines the goodness and the decency of Americans regardless of what party,” New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said.

Sen. Kamala Harris of California also found blame in Trump’s use of language, which she said has “incredible consequence.”

“We have a president of the United States who has chosen to use his words in a way that have been about selling hate and division among us,” she told reporters.

Sen. Bernie Sanders urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to call senators back to Washington, saying the Senate should “have a special session to address gun violence in America and let us finally have the courage to take on the NRA.”

The call for McConnell to bring senators back to deal with gun violence was echoed by other candidates, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

“We should vote within 48 hours on the two background check bills that have already passed the House,” Warren said.

Former Texas congressman and El Paso native Beto O’Rourke said that Trump is a white nationalist. O’Rourke said El Paso “will overcome this,” as he called for universal background checks, ending the sale of weapons of war into communities and red flag laws.

Julian Castro, who previously served as San Antonio mayor and U.S. housing secretary, described “a very toxic brew of white nationalism,” and called on Trump to “to try and unite Americans instead of fanning the flames of bigotry.”