CNN "The Lead With Jake Tapper" - Transcript "Interview with TX. Rep. Beto O'Rourke"
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But as CNN's Leyla Santiago now report, O'Rourke dismissed calls to run for Senate in Texas today.
BETO O'ROURKE (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If at this moment we do not wake up to this threat, then we as a country will die in our sleep.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That threat, according to former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke, is President Donald Trump.
O'ROURKE: Donald Trump is the greatest threat to our ability to make progress on anything that we care about.
SANTIAGO: O'Rourke is now going after Trump full force, blaming the President's rhetoric in part for the mass shooting that left 22 people dead in his hometown of El Paso.
O'ROURKE: We saw the realization of his rhetoric, his invitation of violence in our community, but it's not just in El Paso.
SANTIAGO: Also to blame, he says, guns. Returning to the campaign trail after a 12-day break to mourn with his community, he's not calling for more gun control, including a mandatory buyback of assault weapons.
O'ROURKE: I know that this is not politically easy. It's frankly why far too few people are proposing. It's frankly why I have not proposed it in the past.
SANTIAGO: And there's something else he's insisting.
O'ROURKE: There have been some who suggested that I stay in Texas and run for Senate, but that would not be good enough for this community.
SANTIAGO: As O'Rourke resumes his run, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is dropping his presidential bid.
JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, I'm ending my campaign for president.
SANTIAGO: Announcing his candidacy in March, the former Colorado governor struggled to gain support. He didn't offer specifics today about his future plans, but left open the possibility of a run for the U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent Cory Gardner, who Democrat see as vulnerable.
HICKENLOOPER: I've heard from so many Coloradoans who want me to run for the United States Senate, I intent to give that some serious thought.
SANTIAGO: And back to Congressman O'Rourke, former Congressman O'Rourke, he is in Mississippi tonight. He says he wants to show support for the immigrant community there, given the headlines that came out after the ICE raids. And that's something that you're probably going to see more of in this new reset, the new strategy of his, not just to focus on those early voting states, Iowa, New Hampshire, et cetera, but rather he says he wants to focus on the communities that have been made vulnerable by President Trump. Jake?
TAPPER: All right, Leyla Santiago in El Paso, thanks so much.
Let's bring our experts back. And Kirsten, let me start on that note. Listen to Beto O'Rourke describing his new 2020 strategy.
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O'ROURKE: We're going to go to every community that has been terrorized by Donald Trump. We're going to lift everyone up that he has sought to put down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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