WATCH: Beto O’Rourke Unleashes on Pete Buttigieg, Accuses Him of ‘Poll Testing and Focus Group-Driving’ His Position on Guns


Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke lashed out at 2020 rival Pete Buttigieg in a scathing attack over criticism of the former Texas Congressman’s mandatory gun buyback proposal: “I was really offended by those comments.”

In the wake of the Dayton, El Paso, and Midland mass shootings this summer, O’Rourke came out strongly in favor of comprehensive gun control measures like an assault weapons ban and mandatory gun buybacks, famously proclaiming “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15!” at the Democratic debate in September.

Days later, Buttigieg pushed back on O’Rourke’s proposal, agreeing with CNN’s Jake Tapper who asked if O’Rourke’s aggressive push was “playing into the hands of Republicans” who have long sought to portray Democrats as trying to subvert the Second Amendment.

Speaking to the press at the 2020 Gun Safety Forum in Las Vegas, NV — hosted by former Congresswoman and gun violence survivor Gabriel Giffords — O’Rourke effectively accused Buttigieg of political cowardice.

“What Pete has been saying is that a mandatory buyback is the ‘shiny object’ that is distracting us,” O’Rourke said, grimacing. “How in the world can you say that to March for Our Lives? How can you say that to survivors of mass shootings in this country? How can you say that to a majority of Hispanics in America, certainly in Texas, who fear that they will be the victims of a mass shooting inspired by racism and hatred that has been welcomed into the open by this president and has been armed by weapons of war? I was really offended by those comments.”

O’Rourke then pivoted to broadly target what he characterized as Buttigieg’s more calculated, moderate campaign positions — even though O’Rourke himself had defended gun rights and promised gun owners they could keep their AR-15s just 18 months ago during his Texas Senate campaign

“He represents a kind of politics that is focused on poll-testing and focus group-driving and triangulating listening to consultants before you arrive at a position,” O’Rourke said, slamming Buttigieg. “I think our politics has to be about doing the right thing, saying the right thing.”

Watch the video above, via Bloomberg News’ Sahil Kapur, Twitter.

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