Beto O'Rourke says we have '10 years' left to tackle climate change, blames Trump for rise in hate crimes

Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, has made a series of eyebrow-raising claims in a new interview, including that we have 10 years to fix climate change and that President Trump is responsible for a rise in hate crimes across the country.

"The clock is ticking," O'Rourke said during an episode of "Pod Save America." "The scientists tell us that there are roughly ten years left to us to free ourselves from a dependence on fossil fuel, to make sure that every single one of us is doing our part, that we're fortifying those communities -- very often lower income and communities of color."

O'Rourke told the podcast's host, Tommy Vietor, that climate change would be his first legislative priority upon entering office.

"If I think about the single greatest threat that we face, it’s the fact that this climate is changing," he said. He added that the climate changed because of people emitting greenhouse gases, engaging in undefined "excesses," and by not acting to prevent it.

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Flooding in Texas and Iowa, as well as fires in Caifornia, were the result of climate change, O'Rourke suggested.

His comments came amid a broader debate in the Democratic Party over how aggressive politicians should be in tackling the issue. Both the party's frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., backed the ambitious "Green New Deal" proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

Ocasio-Cortez, who famously joked about the world ending in 12 years, knocked O'Rourke's own climate plan, saying that it wasn't aggressive enough.

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O'Rourke and Vietor also took on what they suggested was right-wing "radicalization" online. "Young people are on there and are receiving an education in intolerance that’s going to manifest itself in violence," O'Rourke said before blaming Trump for a rise in hate crimes.

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"You’ve seen a rise in hate crimes -- every single one of the last three years in this country -- and much of that is Donald Trump," he said before adding that a lot also came from the internet.

O'Rourke has been lagging in the polls but still led many of the long list of candidates vying for the party's nomination. He was also able to score a spot at the first Democratic primary debates which will take place on June 26 and 27.