The tweet from the GOP’s official Twitter account featured an image of O’Rourke’s mug shot from a 1998 drunk-driving arrest. The former Democratic representative was charged with DWI at age 26 when he crashed into a truck on an interstate.
The mug shot in the tweet was photoshopped to include a cartoon leprechaun hat over his head and a placard across his chest that read, “PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY.” Along with the image, the GOP tweeted the message, “On this St. Paddy’s Day, a special message from noted Irishman Robert Francis O’Rourke.”
When O’Rourke challenged Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) in the 2018 midterm election, Republicans often criticized O’Rourke for going by “Beto,” a childhood nickname that stuck, rather than Robert.
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
The message spread quickly on Twitter, with many users, even fellow Republicans, expressing their disdain for the tweet. Michigan Rep. Justin Amash (R) tweeted the GOP should “do better” and “be better.”
Other users criticized the tweet.
This vile tweet is indicative of the bottom feeding @Gop led by this "president*" and his low traveling @GOPChairwoman. With Irish family members, as an American and a world citizen, this is an attack on all races. https://t.co/cctXb91wPU— John Weaver (@jwgop) March 17, 2019
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 https://t.co/ASM24WdIDI— Doug Stafford (@dougstafford) March 17, 2019
“Irishman” is quite a loaded term for a political party to use alongside an arrest photo on St. Pat’s wknd. At Notre Dame and elsewhere, I know scholars who closely track the way Catholics and Irish Americans have been portrayed — and are still portrayed in America. https://t.co/M9aGI5uS5N— Robert Costa (@costareports) March 17, 2019
Let me get this straight: the @GOP is mocking Beto O'Rourke by deploying vicious anti-Irish stereotypes that have historically been used to marginalize Irish immigrants and citizens while ignoring that Bush, Cheney, and Matt Gaetz have four DUIs between them. Classy. https://t.co/swSQDGbvsZ— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) March 17, 2019
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? https://t.co/rtlWKg7Yma— Bryan Lowry (@BryanLowry3) March 17, 2019
I’m sure Lincoln would be proud of this tweet. You guys are really going high here— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) March 17, 2019
O’Rourke responded to the tweet while campaigning in Milwaukee on Sunday. “People want to focus on the big picture, on our goals,” he told a group of reporters. “They want us to be defined not by this pettiness or the personal attacks we see ... They want us to be defined by our ambitions and aspirations.”
.@BetoORourke responds to @GOP St. Patrick’s Day tweet featuring his mug shot— Johnny Verhovek (@JTHVerhovek) March 17, 2019
“I think people want us focused on the big picture. 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.” pic.twitter.com/AHcyPHWGsm
Despite criticism, the GOP’s official Twitter account followed up the tweet with another one bashing the former representative’s congressional record.
O’Rourke was a failed Member of Congress w/ a far-left liberal record:— GOP (@GOP) March 17, 2019
*voted w/ Nancy Pelosi 94% of the time
*only passed one bill—renaming a courthouse
*supports the $93 trillion Green New Deal
*voted against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which added 362,200 jobs to his home state
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.