The Republican Party is taking heat for tweeting a supposed celebration of St. Patrick’s Day that mocks Beto O’Rourke’s Irish heritage, according to a report by HuffPost. The snarky tweet was sent from the GOP’s official Twitter account and features the mug shot taken when O’Rourke was arrested in 1998, when he was 26, for allegedly driving under the influence. He was charged with a DWI when he failed a breathalyzer test after crashing his car into a truck on the interstate.
The controversial tweet features the mug shot with a photoshopped leprechaun hat on O’Rourke’s head, and a sign across his chest that reads, “Please drink responsibly.” Along with the photo, the Twitter account sent out a message ostensibly celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and issuing a warning about drinking while driving, but at the same time taking a backhanded swipe at O’Rourke’s name, calling him “noted Irishman Robert Francis O’Rourke.”
When O’Rourke was campaigning against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2018 midterm elections, a favorite GOP talking point was to make fun of O’Rourke’s nickname Beto, and insinuating that he was using it tactically to drum up Latino support, rather than going by his given name Robert or Bob.
As the tweet went viral overnight, critics were quick to condemn the message, including numerous Republicans. Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan tweeted that the party should “do better,” and “be better.”
On this St. Paddy's Day, a special message from noted Irishman Robert Francis O'Rourke. pic.twitter.com/JRjMEXhZRY— GOP (@GOP) March 17, 2019
Doug Stafford, a prominent Republican and chief strategist for Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, echoed Rep. Amash’s sentiments with a tweet of his own.
“If you think you’re funny or clever by stereotyping and making fun of any race or nationality to score political points, you’re an idiot, and you should probably not tweet. Do better @GOP @GOPChairwoman,” he wrote.
Other Twitter users pointed out that making fun of Irish-Americans is probably not in the best interest of the Republicans, especially on the one day of the year everyone celebrates having even the tiniest sliver of Irish heritage. Users also brought up the fact that there are a whole lot of actual Irish-Americans out there.
“Irish Americans are actually a pretty big segment of the electorate. There’s 30 million of us. GOP’s social media team thought it was a good idea to dunk on Beto by promoting negative Irish stereotypes on our holiday?” wrote Twitter user @BryanLowry3.
For his part, O’Rourke took the high road when he was asked about the tweet, telling reporters that far from focusing on “pettiness and personal attacks,” what the voters actually want to hear about is goals, aspirations, and for politicians to talk about “the big picture.”
The GOP official account couldn’t help but double down despite the criticism, tweeting a follow-up that called O’Rourke a “failed member of Congress” who voted with Nancy Pelosi 94 percent of the time and slammed him for supporting the Green New Deal.