Obama celebrates his Irish roots on St. Patrick's Day — but GOP's drunk-driving jab at Beto O'Rourke backfires

Politicians from both sides of the aisle celebrated St. Patrick’s Day on Sunday. But while the 44th president praised “the warmth and generosity of the Irish people,” a message from the GOP’s official Twitter account drew widespread backlash.

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Barack Obama celebrated “ the warmth and generosity of the Irish people” in a St. Patrick’s Day tweet. (Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Barack Obama joked that his name will always be “O’Bama” on St. Patrick’s Day, and shared a photo of his 2011 visit to Moneygall in central Ireland, where he explored the house where his great-great-great-grandfather grew up. 

“I marveled as I walked around on the same old floorboards that he did, then I had the privilege to address the people of Ireland on College Green,” he wrote on Instagram. “For me, this photo pretty much sums up their joyful spirit; a warmth and generosity that stay with me to this day.”

A tweet from the GOP got a much different response than Obama’s posts, as it showed an old mugshot of Beto O’Rourke with a leprechaun hat photoshopped onto his head.

O’Rourke was arrested in September 1998 for driving while drunk and hitting another vehicle, The Guardian reports. The charges were reportedly dismissed after he completed a court-approved diversion program. Prior to that arrest, he was booked by University of Texas El Paso police in 1995 for jumping a fence, but The Guardian reports that those charges were also dropped.

The former Texas congressman and presidential hopeful has been touring the nation after officially entering the 2020 presidential race on Thursday. He responded to the GOP’s tweet by telling reporters on Sunday that no one has asked him about his arrest history at the dozens of events he’s attended in the past few days.

I take from that that people want us focused on the big picture, on our goals,” he said in a video posted by NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard. “They want us to be defined, not by this pettiness or the personal attacks that we see in ones like the ad that you just described. They want us to be defined by our ambitions, our aspirations. The work that we’re willing to do to pull this very deeply divided country together.”

People on Twitter were also quick to call out the GOP’s post for drawing on negative stereotypes of Irish people. Even Republican congressman Justin Amash urged his party to “do better.”

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