Trump: 'Dummy' O'Rourke's assault weapons pledge is making it harder to get a guns deal

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By Allan Smith  with NBC News Politics
Image: Beto O'Rourke speaks at a Democratic National Committee event in Atl
Beto O'Rourke speaks at a Democratic National Committee event in Atlanta on June 6, 2019.   -   Copyright  Dustin Chambers Getty Images file

President Donald Trump blasted former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, on Wednesday morning over his plan to buy back assault weapons, saying the presidential candidate's pledge during last week's Democratic primary debate has hampered efforts to pass gun-control legislation.

"Dummy Beto made it much harder to make a deal," Trump wrote. "Convinced many that Dems just want to take your guns away. Will continue forward!"

During Thursday's Democratic debate, O'Rourke said, "Hell yes we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47."

"We're not going to allow it to be used against fellow Americans any more," he added.

The remarks came under swift criticism from conservatives and some Democrats, who felt they were counterproductive to passing gun-control measures in the aftermath of three horrific mass shootings last month that left dozens dead.

"I frankly think that that clip will be played for years at Second Amendment rallies with organizations that try to scare people by saying Democrats are coming for your guns," Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., told CNN last week.

Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., told "Fox News Sunday" that O'Rourke's "message doesn't help" with passing legislation. And on CNN's "State of the Union," South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a 2020 presidential candidate, said "yes" when asked if the remarks played into Republicans hands.

"We have agreement among the American people for not just universal background checks, but we have a majority in favor of red-flag laws, high-capacity magazines, banning the new sale of assault weapons," Buttigieg said. "This is a golden moment to finally do something."

"When even this president and even Mitch McConnell are at least pretending to be open to reforms, we know that we have a moment on our hands," he continued. "Let's make the most of it, and get these things done."

O'Rourke, who is polling at about 3 percent in the RealClearPolitics polling average of the Democratic primary field, responded to Buttigieg's remarks, criticizing the mayor for being afraid to push the envelope on guns.

"Leaving millions of weapons of war on the streets because Trump and McConnell are 'at least pretending to be open to reforms?'" O'Rourke tweeted. "That calculation and fear is what got us here in the first place. Let's have the courage to say what we believe and fight for it."

O'Rourke's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.