The El Paso-born Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke has condemned Donald Trump’s racism and the failure to take action on gun control following a mass shooting by a suspected white supremacist.

The former congressman, who represented the district where the attack took place, said the US president’s rhetoric “fundamentally changes the character of the country – and it leads to violence.”

We have to ask ourselves about the level of hatred and racism we are seeing in the country right now.

O’Rourke was asked about the shooting, which killed 20 people and injured dozens, and if he thought it could be linked to Trump’s rhetoric against immigrants, including racist tweets aimed towards four congresswomen of colour.

According to CNN, O’Rourke paused for a moment before he answered: “Yes.”

Speaking to the media after meeting with victims and medical staff at the University Medical Centre in El Paso, he went on to say

We’ve had a rise in hate crimes every single one of the last three years during an administration where you’ve had a president who’s called Mexicans ‘rapists’ and ‘criminals,’ though Mexican immigrants commit crimes at a far lower rate than those born here in the country.

He is a racist and he stokes racism in this country, and it does not offend our sensibilities, it fundamentally changes the character of this country and it leads to violence.

O’Rourke also praised the strength of some of the victims, and he also said they were asking politicians to do something about gun crime.

Yes, it's the gun laws. Yes, it's the universal background checks. And yes, we should stop selling weapons of war into our communities.

But I think we also have to confront this hatred that I have never seen in my lifetime. And we certainly have not seen in El Paso.

The 46-year-old has since tweeted a simple and heartfelt message to his followers:

If you'd like to learn how you can help after the deadly Texas shootings, check out the indy100 guide here.

Donald Trump has a history of controversial statements.

He has been criticised for tweeting a racist “go back home” message to four American congresswomen of colour – Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Ayana Pressley and Omar Ilhan.

A Pulitzer-Prize winning historian and presidential biographer has said that Donald Trump is now tied for the most racist president to have ever held office.

Speaking on MSNBC on Monday, John Meacham said:

He has joined Andrew Johnson as the most racist president in American history.

He added:

Johnson, in a state message, said that African-Americans were incapable of self-government and relapsed into barbarism if they weren’t closely supervised.

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