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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/CHARLIE KAIJO Democratic presidential candidate Beto OÕRourke greets members of a crowd during a campaign rally, Sunday, August 18, 2019 at Razorback Gardens in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke on Sunday drew 400 people to a rally in which he called for buybacks of assault-style rifles and criticized President Donald Trump's record on race.

The nation has never fully lived up to the ideal of equality in the Declaration of Independence, "but [it] never stopped trying until the administration of this president," O'Rourke told the crowd gathered in a pavilion on the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville campus.

The noon rally was largely about -- and was rescheduled because of -- gun violence.

The former congressman from Texas originally was scheduled to hold the Fayetteville rally on Friday, before attending the Democratic Party of Arkansas' annual Clinton Dinner in Little Rock on Saturday night.

But after an Aug. 3 mass shooting in his hometown of El Paso that killed 22 people, O'Rourke returned to El Paso and later asked the University of Arkansas Young Democrats, which organized Sunday's rally, whether it could move the time.

Authorities have said they believe that the suspect in the shooting posted a statement online shortly before the attack, which occurred near the border between the U.S. and Mexico. In the statement, the writer warned of an "invasion" of migrants.

"It's not enough to not be racist, ladies and gentlemen," O'Rourke told the crowd in Fayetteville. "We have to be anti-racist."

Drawing such a crowd for such a message, about reducing access to guns and directly confronting racism, marks a major shift in Arkansas politics, said state Rep. Nicole Clowney, D-Fayetteville.

"Things we used to think a politician couldn't talk about are now not only popular, but things such as common-sense gun laws are things in which a huge majority agree," she said.

But Rep. Robin Lundstrum, R-Elm Springs, said politicians have good reasons for not talking about, for instance, making some types of guns illegal and having a buyback program. And a person should take care before accusing anyone else of racism, she said, noting it's a very serious allegation.

"I don't think his message will be received that well in Arkansas even among Democrats here," said Lundstrum, who watched O'Rourke's appearance on a live video. She called the buyback proposal a "feel-good" measure that would not work even if taxpayers were willing to pay for it.

And she said his comments on racism were "not helpful," but instead were provocative.

"I think it's great he came to Northwest Arkansas," Lundstrum said. "Arkansas is not flyover country, and while I disagree with him, I respectfully disagree. At least he proposed something. I don't think it's a useful solution, but it was a place to start."

Raven Cook of Fayetteville went to the rally a half-hour early. O'Rourke talks about race and social justice in America in a straightforward manner, she said, adding that it's a core issue other candidates need to address as directly as he does.

The crowd overflowed the red-brick pavilion on the university campus, and many attending the rally stood in the rain, with lightning crackling overhead and a hornet nest being found in a nearby tree.

Corrinnia Briggs of Fayetteville attended despite her concerns about the wisdom of appearing in a crowd in the wake of recent gun violence. She said she appreciated O'Rourke's willingness to appear at a gun show in Conway on Saturday afternoon, before the fundraiser in Little Rock that evening. It showed a willingness to consider all sides of a question even in the aftermath of a tragedy in his hometown, she said.

Metro on 08/19/2019

Print Headline: Beto O'Rourke makes stop in Northwest Arkansas

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Archived Comments

  • RBear
    August 19, 2019 at 6:36 a.m.

    O'Rourke and other Democratic candidates are highlighting the two issues that are continuing to grow in this country - white supremacist and access to assault-style weapons. This past week, three individuals have been arrested for what could be perceived as terroristic threats. All three had access to assault-style weapons and espoused white supremacist ideas. Yet, Trump was "watching" a group in Portland that has never carried out a mass shooting, nor incited violence at anything other that protests.
    ...
    I don't agree with their tactics, but they are not terrorists in that they don't attack anyone other than those in protests. I could be wrong on this and would love examples where antifa went after someone outside a protest or that wasn't inciting hate speech themselves. The individuals I mentioned wanted to attack innocent people because of who they are - people of a different race or religion or sexual orientation.

  • mozarky2
    August 19, 2019 at 6:43 a.m.

    Antifa uses Nazi-like tactics. They incite violence. They commit violence. They're thugs. They're masked. They operate in Portland, and Portland only.
    RB, there will be NO buyback. There are, what, 200 white supremacists in the US? These are non-issues.

  • mozarky2
    August 19, 2019 at 6:56 a.m.

    Gun buyback? When did the government own them in the first place? As I clearly pointed out, military-style rifles are perfectly legal under Heller. You're just too willfully ignorant to see it.

  • RBear
    August 19, 2019 at 7:38 a.m.

    moz the last I checked, no one validated your points on your misread of Heller. Nowhere in Heller did Scalia say assault-style weapons are constitutionally protected which was your first premise. Assault-style weapons are legal now, but could be banned by congressional action which is what Scalia did state in his opinion on Heller.
    ...
    200 white supremacists in the nation? Hilarious. There were 5 times more than that at Charlottesville. The rally in Portland had quite a few. Your ignorance is astounding and disgusting. Is there any reason why Trump supporters are labeled deplorable? You are a great example.
    ...
    You are a crazy old fool holed up in Rogers who spends most of his day trolling in here. You have no clue. You spend all day trolling right wing sites and posting from them.
    ...
    White supremacists are the ones employing Nazi-like tactics and have even proudly stated that. They come armed to the max and hope to provoke violence. As I said, I don't agree with antifas tactics, but you also need to acknowledge the tactics of white supremacists. As I said, tell me how many antifa activists have committed mass shootings or were arrested before they did commit them.

  • RBear
    August 19, 2019 at 7:52 a.m.

    BTW, it's pretty apparent you have no clue about antifa. They operate throughout the US, not just Portland. Sometimes I wonder if you are really that disconnected with reality. Then you say idiotic stuff like that and my suspicions are reconfirmed.

  • reality1963
    August 19, 2019 at 9:04 a.m.

    How many of the students, in the crowd, are on a free ride paid for conservative parents?

  • RBear
    August 19, 2019 at 9:13 a.m.

    How many of the Proud Boys are on a free ride? How many of the white supremacists arrested last week were on a free ride?

  • GeneralMac
    August 19, 2019 at 9:15 a.m.

    RBear.......6:36

    2nd paragraph

    RBear reminds me of another ultra liberal weasel......Clarke "Weasel" Tucker.

    RBear starts out the paragraph distancing himself from Antifa, then uses the word " but" and ends up defending Antifa.

    According to hypocrite RBear, it is WRONG to target innocent people but perfectly OK to target protesters you disagree with ?

  • GeneralMac
    August 19, 2019 at 9:22 a.m.

    RBear idolizes Germany's gun policies.

    That is all he could talk about after the Florida school shooting........" Germany, Germany, Germany "

    MOVE to Germany if you desire German gun control laws.
    Simple !

  • RBear
    August 19, 2019 at 9:36 a.m.

    One of these days, Doug will actually stop drinking and maybe start making sense. Until then, he just rambles on about things without any real context.

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