Beto O'Rourke drops out of race for president

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke speaks in Altoona, Iowa, on Aug. 21, 2019.

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke is holding a town hall on gun violence Thursday in Aurora, his campaign announced.

O'Rourke made waves in last week's primary debate in Houston when he called for a mandatory federal buyback of assault weapons, a position the former Texas congressman has endorsed since a gunman killed 22 people and injured 24 others at an El Paso Walmart on Aug. 3.

 "Hell yes, we're gonna take your AR-15, your AK-47, and we're not going to allow it to be used against your fellow Americans anymore," O'Rourke said during the debate, which featured 10 of the 20 Democrats who want to challenge President Donald Trump.

O'Rourke opened the debate by tying Trump to the gunman, who drove more than 600 miles to El Paso after posting an anti-immigrant diatribe online, saying the shooter was "inspired to kill by our president."

A spokesman for Trump's campaign rejected O'Rourke's attack, saying in a tweet that the Democrat is "as desperate as he can be" while retweeting a Fox News host who called O'Rourke's charge "inflammatory & unfair."

During his visit to Colorado — his first as a presidential candidate — O'Rourke's campaign said he plans to "encourage Americans to connect the dots about the harm of Trump’s recklessness and racism and refuse to back down on his call for immediate action on gun control, including a mandatory buyback of assault weapons."

State Rep. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial, whose son Alex was killed in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting, will introduce O'Rourke at the town hall, his campaign said.

The town hall is set for 5 p.m. Thursday at the City Cafe in the Aurora municipal center, 15151 E. Alameda Parkway.

— The Associated Press contributed

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